Whenever I pick up a bundle of palak(spinach) at the grocery store -all organic & prewashed & ready to serve and what not, always, without a miss, I think about the vegetable patch(es) in my grandmother's house,a house where I lived in some 18 years back, having a backyard planted with tomatoes and okra during summers and cauliflowers & potatoes during winters.One where the air would strongly smell of agarbatti (incense sticks) in the evenings which were often lighted to wade away the bugs from the eggplant bush, one which had rowsÂ dotted with yellow and orange marigolds & english roses.One where each morning,I strolled alongÂ the narrow, wet sidewalks brushing my teeth,bending down to sniffÂ the strong fragrance of tulsi (holy basil) plants.One where I spent a lot of childhood days,counting the ready-to-pluck green beans and tearingÂ leaves apart to spot the cabbage buns. A backyard where you could find us after coming back from school, dressed in printed cotton frocks,bare feet, digging mud and playing hide and seek within the squash creepers.
I visited India last year and everything isÂ the same, the yard still planted with seasonal crop but now more taken care of byÂ maaliÂ (gardener) than the family. Mom madeÂ dalÂ and she sprinkled a bunch of chopped coriander leaves on top,picked from there. I plucked a few narangiÂ (indian kumquat) from the bush which has now turned into a small tree inÂ all theses years and popped it into my mouth with a pinch of salt, the burst of citrus tang running goose pimples all over my body, bringing memories withÂ itself of the days when squirts of that sweet acid graced our daliya (breakfast porridge)Â every now and then. I toreÂ up a fewÂ spinach andÂ methiÂ (fenugreek) leaves and chewed on them, a wishÂ which I had nestled for so many years to experience that unforgettable earthly, delicate taste all over again.
I wanted ourÂ daughter to play Â and get her hands dirty in the mud but she could barely crawl at that time, so that fun has to wait till our next visit. But, embraced in all these memories, I made thisÂ murghÂ (chicken)Â saagÂ (any leafy green) last week and she really loved it. This recipe is a perfect balance of greens and protein to nourish kids and adults alike.You would have seen this dishÂ on indian restaurant's menus a lot. But it is not somethingÂ I grew up with. I started making it regularly a couple of years back, mostly aroundÂ my pregnancy yearsÂ when I craved spinach all the time. This recipe has evolved a lot from the first time IÂ cooked it.
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
For the Spice Rub on Chicken
Rest of the Ingredients
Wash thoroughly and pat the chicken pieces completely dry. Set aside. In a small pan, dry roast theÂ kashmiriÂ chilies, coriander seeds, cloves, fennel,methi, cumin and black peppercorns. Transfer to a coffee grinder and coarsely grind.Â Mix the ground spices with turmeric, nutmeg and salt. In a large bowl, add theÂ chicken, drizzle the oil and sprinkle half of the ground spices and rubÂ so that all the pieces are covered in the spices. Reserve the rest of the spice rub. Cover the bowl and set in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours or preferably overnight to marinate.
Once ready to cook,take the chickenÂ outÂ from the refrigerator and let sit on kitchen counter.Bring 2-3 cups of water to a boil in a pot. Put off the heat.Add the spinach leaves to the water and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Drain out the spinach leaves and puree in the food processor using little water if required. You can reserve the boiled water to thin out the sauce later if you want.Â
Meanwhile,heat up the mustard oil in another wide, heavy bottomed pot. Add the cinnamon, bay leaf and let crackle. Add the onions and garlic next. Let cook for 5-8Â minutes on medium low heat until the onion starts to turn brown. At this point, carefully add the chicken pieces to the pot in a single layer (if possible), and on medium high heat, let the chicken pieces sear on one side. Flip and let sear on all sides. Next, add the tomatoes, ginger and remaining ground spice powder to the pot. Stir around and let cook on medium heat till you see, tomatoes turn soft and oil just starting to separate on the side of the pan.It might take 8-10 minutes since the chicken will also release its juices butÂ keep on cooking.
Once you see that the chicken is about 80% cooked, add the pureed spinach along with theÂ garamÂ masala. Combine and cover till the spinach blends in the sauce, the raw smell is gone, it turns down in color to dark green and the chicken is completely cooked, about 10-12 minutes on medium heat.Â You will see little glistening spinach bubbles on the top.Open the lid, add theÂ kasuri methiÂ and water (depending on the consistency you want). Let simmer for another 1-2 minutes.Add the heavy cream, check and adjust the salt, let simmer for 2-3 minutes more (but do not boil).
Let sit for 2-3 hours before serving.Warm up and serve.
Enjoy & Thanks for Stopping by!
That looks and sounds so mouthwatering! A fantastic combination of ingredients and flavors.
This sounds delicious - healthy, balanced. And the photos and your story of your last visit to your home in India - both so beautiful.
Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard...
My wife and I love cooking Indian at home. Spinach chicken is one of our favorites!
Lovely dish...have to try it out soon.
Awesome dish...hoping to try it out soon.
This looks so gorgeous - I've pinned it so I remember to make it! Now to find fenugreek leaves!
easily available at indian stores. Even if you don't thats okay. They lend a nice aroma to the dish but can be skipped if you do not find them
Thanks, that's so nice to know. You have such a lovely blog and I'm excited to explore it more!
A Famished Foodie
This looks like it tastes phenomenal! I'm also incredibly impressed with the photography- I always find Persian/Indian/etc type of food hard to photograph since the stews and such don't always translate well on camera.
Thank you 🙂
Your grandmother's garden sounds wonderful! The Indian climate is so good for growing things.
I love this dish....I've made a version of it where I just throw things in at random but I will try your recipe!
Brilliant blog! Superb writing, delicious recipes and great photographs. Have you considered publishing a cookbook? I would buy.
And never been a fan of spinach chicken. Think of them as gooey glops. But this recipe makes me want to try it. Not pureeing the greens is the key in your recipe. Great detail. Its Saturday and I know what we are eating for lunch. Thanks Tanvi.
Eeeeks! So excited to try this recipe!
Best Recipe. I loved it. Thanks for sharing the wonderful recipe with us.
Lovely memories. Enjoyed your writing. This helped me decide what to try next from a favorite Indian restaurant. Thank you.
Fantastic recipe!!! Definitely a new family favorite!! I doubled it because of an overload of greens from our CSA and it worked out beautifully!! I didn't measure the spices (in true Indian form), but kept the proportions the same as listed. I did sear the chicken in batches, which adds just that much more flavor overall. GREAT note to not over process the greens. I think what I loved most about this recipe is that the flavors meld together beautifully, but the greens flavor really comes out and it tastes so incredibly fresh. Thank you so much!!!!
Is it suitable for freezing?
Yes you can. Not more than 2 weeks though. Spinach loses its taste beyond that. Do not add the heavy cream when you prepare it for freezing.
On the day you want to serve, add the frozen spinach -chicken gravy to a pot, heat up, add the heavy cream then, simmer on low for 5-7 minutes and serve. Hope this helps.
We have cooked this recipe about 5 times now and it is perfect. Such a delicious flavour with all the spices, seems like a lot but tastes great. Fabulous.
It looks Amazing!!!
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