Chicken Saag

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: October 15, 2019

Last Updated: February 22nd, 20248 Comments on Chicken Saag

Spinach takes centre stage in this delicious mild, creamy Chicken Saag curry. A beautifully fragrant and lightly spiced sauce clings to juicy chicken pieces. It’s full of earthy green goodness.

A bowl of Chicken Saag curry with a spoon, drizzled with fresh cream and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

One of my tastiest curries is also one of the simplest to make at home. Spinach is used to magnificent effect in one of the creamiest sauces.

Packed with iron-rich goodness my chicken saag is a triumph of colour, fragrance, texture and flavour. The vibrant green colour is so alluring! I can't get enough of it.

To make this curry at home is easy too, You'll have a super tasty and authentic saag in not time at all.

A bowl of Chicken Saag drizzled with fresh cream and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

What is Chicken Saag?

'Saag' refers to any leafy green vegetable in India, commonly spinach. 'Palak' refers exclusively to spinach, so saag can be made using many types of leaf including mustard greens, fenugreek, collard greens and more.

Saag can use the leaves chopped or pureed. I prefer pureed for the colour and creamy texture it produces.

Saag is commonly incorporated into many curry varieties both vegetarian, vegan and non-veg (meat, seafood & poultry). My delicious Spinach Dal (Dal Palak), Saag Aloo (Spinach & Potato Curry), Saag Gosht (Lamb & Spinach Curry) and Jheenga Palak (Shrimp & Spinach Curry) all use spinach to great effect!

Why it works?

It's healthy - All that iron-rich spinach will do wonders while delivering big on taste.

It's creamy and mild - When I don't want a fiery curry this saag curry is a milder choice that favours fragrance over chilli heat.

the ingredients for chicken saag curry - chicken, spinach, garlic, ginger, onion, tomato passata, cumin, coriander, chilli powder, yoghurt cinnamon and cardamom.

Stuff You'll Need

Chicken saag is relatively light on ingredients as Indian curries go. Opting for milder spicing and fresh ingredients. Here are the key flavours in making your saag happen at home...

  • Chicken thighs - I say this every time, but chicken thighs are the best option for curries. They'll stay nice and juicy and won't dry out like chicken breast does. I feel like a broken record, but it's worth mentioning again!
  • Spinach - I use fresh baby spinach leaves, but you can also use frozen or canned (not creamed spinach). One thing to note is that I always squeeze out some of the excess water once cooked. This avoids the curry from becoming watery.
  • Fresh - onion, garlic, ginger add the backbone and fragrance to the sauce. Pureeing these after sautéing helps create a luxurious creamy texture.
  • Spices - are limited to cumin, coriander and chilli powder along with some whole cardamom and cinnamon. Lastly a sprinkle of garam masala near the end adds a little more flavour.
  • Yoghurt & tomato - adds a little sweet and sour note to the sauce and brings more creaminess.
  • Cream - this is an optional step at the end, but honestly the curry is elevated even further in flavour and texture with a little cream. It's a must in my book, but I'll let you decide for yourself.

Step by Step

This chicken saag recipe is pretty easy to make at home. A few simple steps and you'll have this amazing curry on a plate. It might look like a lot of steps, but it's really not, see how...

  1. Step 1 - Using fresh spinach gives the best flavour. I start by sautéing the spinach until wilted. I'll let it cool and then gently squeeze out some of the excess liquid.
  2. Step 2 - Blend the spinach leaves into a thick puree and set aside.
  3. Step 3 - Brown the onion, ginger and garlic for a few minutes until golden brown.
  4. Step 4 - Blend the onion mix into a smooth puree.
  5. Step 5 - In a little oil, fry the cardamom and cinnamon briefly to impart their flavour into the oil.
  6. Step 6 - Add the spices and tomato to the oil and simmer for a few minutes to reduce into a thick paste.
  7. Step 7 - Add the chicken, yoghurt and onion mix to the pan and stir well.
  8. Step 8 - Add a little water and simmer for 35 minutes.
  9. Step 9 - Add the spinach puree and simmer for a few minutes. Sprinkle over the garam masala and stir in some cream. Remove from the heat and you're good to go.
Pinch wilting a in a pan with a wooden spoon
A stick blender creating a spinach puree from fresh spinach
Golden onions, garlic and ginger frying in a pan
A stick blender blending sautéed inion into a puree
cinnamon and cardamom frying in oil
a paste of tomato and spices in a pan
chicken,yoghurt, onion puree and tomato paste in a pan
Chicken curry in a pan with a wooden spoon.
Spinach curry in a pan with a wooden spoon

Pro Tips

  • Spinach - removing some of the excess water will avoid your curry becoming watery. Use a clean tea towel and gently squeeze out the liquid. Do the same if you're using frozen spinach or canned.
  • Cream - A drizzle of cream at the end gives a more decadent finish to the sauce. It will add some extra calories, but a low calorie cream will give the same results. In my humble opinion, it's an essential, but if you're wanting a healthier option I'll let you decide.
  • Pureeing - blending the spinach and onions gives the wonderful smooth texture to this sauce. You can choose to chop your spinach instead and also to not puree the onion for a more rustic texture to the chicken saag.

Serving Suggestions

  • I like to serve my chicken saag with a light drizzle of cream and a few vibrant and tart pomegranate seeds to contrast the green hue and earthy flavour of the spinach sauce.
  • I prefer my curry with lots of fluffy basmati rice, but you can also accompany with Indian breads like roti, chapati, naan or paratha etc.

Storage

  • Fridge - the curry will stay good in airtight containers for 4-5 days in the fridge.
  • Freezer - Chicken saag is a good contender for freezing. Store in airtight containers for 3+ months. Reheat in the microwave until piping hot (stir a few times during reheating and add a little water if the sauce dries out too much)
A bowl of Chicken Saag curry with a spoon, drizzled with fresh cream and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

Ready to get cooking?

Chicken saag is a curry I have on a regular rotation at home. It freezes well, so I'll often have a few portions good-to-go. I just love the fragrant and mild flavour for those days I don't want the challenge of chilli heat.

It's so much tastier than takeout to have your own freshly cooked saag curry and once you make your own at home, you'll see just how much better homemade is! I hope you enjoy.

A bowl of Chicken Saag curry drizzled with fresh cream and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.
A bowl of Chicken Saag curry with a spoon, drizzled with fresh cream and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

Any Questions? (FAQ)

Have a question about Chicken Saag? Let me know in the comments.

What is Saag?

Saag is a popular Indian dish made primarily with leafy greens such as spinach or mustard greens. It is cooked with aromatic spices, herbs, and sometimes protein like chicken or paneer, resulting in a flavorful and nutritious vegetarian or non-vegetarian curry.

Is chicken saag a healthy option?

Yes, chicken saag can be a healthy option. Spinach or greens are the main ingredient in saag, and highly nutritious, rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Chicken provides a good source of lean protein.

Is saag sauce spicy?

It depends, typically, saag dishes are mild in spice, but the use of mustard leaves instead of spinach will create a mild heat of their own. The sauce itself can be dialled up or down to suit your own tastes. Fresh chillies or chilli powder can be scaled either way to add or reduce chilli heat.

A hand holding a bowl of Chicken Saag curry with a spoon, drizzled with fresh cream and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.
A bowl of Kofta (meatball) curry drizzled with yoghurt and garnished with chopped cilantro

The Best Curry Recipes in the Cook Eat World.

Discover all my favourite curries from around Asia. Here are my Best Curry Recipes in the Cook Eat World.

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A bowl of Chicken Saag curry with a spoon, drizzled with fresh cream and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

Chicken Saag

Rate this recipe

5 from 2 votes
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Recipe by Lee
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 661

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Using 1 tbsp water, sauté the spinach with the lid on for 1-2 minutes until wilted. Remove from the heat and cool for a few minutes. Place on a clean tea towel, gather up and squeeze out some of the excess water.
    Using a stick blender or blender, puree until smooth. Set aside.
  • In a large pan, using 2 tbsp of the oil over a moderate heat, fry the onion, garlic and ginger for 5-6 minutes until golden and soft.
    Remove to a jug and blend using a stick blender or add to a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  • Add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil the the pan over a moderate heat add the cardamom and cinnamon. Let them sizzle for about 30 seconds before adding the tomato, cumin, coriander and chilli powder.
    Simmer the tomato for 1-2 minutes to reduce and become a thick paste.
  • Add the chicken, yoghurt and the onion puree and stir to combine.
  • Add around 1½ cups of water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently (partially covered) for 35 minutes.
  • After 35 minutes, stir in the spinach puree and bring back to a simmer (uncovered). Cook for 5 minutes then remove from the heat.
  • Sprinkle over the garam masala and stir well.
  • *Optional* Stir in the cream and you're good to go!

Notes

  • Spinach: To prevent your curry from becoming watery, remove excess water from fresh, frozen, or canned spinach by gently squeezing it using a clean tea towel.
  • Cream: Adding a drizzle of cream at the end enhances the sauce's richness. While it adds calories, using a low-calorie cream can provide similar results. It's an essential in my opinion, but for a healthier option, the choice is yours.
  • Pureeing: Blending the spinach and onions creates a smooth texture in the sauce. However, you can opt to chop the spinach instead and skip pureeing the onions for a more rustic texture in the chicken saag.
  • Serving Suggestions: To enhance the flavors of chicken saag, consider adding a light cream drizzle and vibrant pomegranate seeds, creating a beautiful contrast to the spinach sauce. Enjoy it with fluffy basmati rice or accompany it with Indian breads like roti, chapati, naan, or paratha.
  • Storage: For refrigeration, store the curry in airtight containers, and it will remain fresh for 4-5 days. Alternatively, chicken saag freezes well. Store it in airtight containers for 3+ months. When reheating in the microwave, ensure it is heated thoroughly, stirring occasionally, and add water if the sauce becomes too dry.

Nutrition

Calories: 661kcal (33%) | Carbohydrates: 21g (7%) | Protein: 42g (84%) | Fat: 46g (71%) | Saturated Fat: 16g (100%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 235mg (78%) | Sodium: 856mg (37%) | Potassium: 1336mg (38%) | Fiber: 6g (25%) | Sugar: 8g (9%) | Vitamin A: 10161IU (203%) | Vitamin C: 39mg (47%) | Calcium: 229mg (23%) | Iron: 6mg (33%)
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