Chicken Saag or Saagwala Recipe

A chicken saag or sag curry is an ever-present dish on a British Indian Curry restaurant menu.

A tall image of a chicken saag curry in a 'brass' curry bowl on a wooden backdrop

Easy Chicken Saag Curry.

A chicken saagwala is nothing more than a chicken and spinach curry. It is also a fine example of just how much spinach cooks down.

When cooking this curry make sure you use a pan that is way too big for a curry for two.

If you do not you will inevitably pile in the spinach and then discover your pan is not large enough… Then you will have to swap pans and your wife will moan about washing up!

I’m not kidding, initially, the amount of spinach in this recipe looks ridiculous however it cooks down to form a perfectly portioned size dish.

Close up image of chicken thighs and wilted spinach in a chicken saag curry in a brass curry bowl

How Spicy is a Saag Curry?

Like all curry recipes, how spicy they are depends on you, the cook. You can adjust the spice levels to your own taste.

Having said that, in a restaurant, this dish would fall firmly in the ‘medium’ curry range.

It would probably fall between a Chicken Jalfrezi or Chicken Pathia on the hotter side and a Chicken Pasanda on the milder side.

All of the heat in this recipe comes from Kashmiri chili powder. It also uses far fewer spices than many of my curry recipes.

Close up image of the handle of a brass curry bowl with an out of focus curry in the background

What is the Difference Between a Saag, Saagwala and Sag Curry?

Quite simply the answer to this question is nothing.

They are the same names for the same curry, although as with all recipes there are subtle differences between cooks.

What is Saag? Saag translates to ‘leaf greens’ in Hindi and can be made with any greens.

For instance, my saag aloo recipe uses Swiss Chard as the leafy element.

In this way, it is perfectly possible to subtly change the flavour of your saagwala by changing the leafy green element.

Just to add more confusion this recipe is often called chicken palak. That is more strictly defined as spinach rather than greens.

A square image of a chicken saag curry in a 'brass' curry bowl on a wooden backdrop

Unusual Techniques.

This recipe contains a couple of unusual additions at the end of the cooking process.

I urge you not to skip or add these ingredients earlier in the process.

Adding the ghee and the ginger for the final 5 minutes of this chicken sag completely changes the texture and the flavour of this recipe.

Adding the ginger at the end adds a wonderful and vibrant flavour to what is a very ‘earthy’ curry.

The ghee lends a richness to a recipe that could otherwise be a little ‘light’. 

This is a relatively new idea I picked up from floating around a Pakistani cooking forum. Yes folks, that’s the sort of place that I hang out online, living large hey?

Chicken saag curry in a 'brass' curry bowl close up
Chicken Saag or Saagwala

Chicken Saag or Saagwala

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

A Chicken Saag is also known as a Chicken Saagwala or even chicken Sag, it is essentially a chicken and spinach curry. It is medium spiced and really easy to cook at home!

Ingredients

  • 350 g Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 150 g Onion
  • 6 Garlic Cloves
  • 100 g Tomato Passata
  • 1 Tbsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 Tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 Tsp Armchoor
  • 1 Tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Fenugreek
  • 250 g Spinach
  • 25g Ginger
  • 50 g Ghee

Instructions

  1. Blend the onion and garlic with just enough water to form a paste.
  2. Add this onion to a pan over a high heat with half of the ghee and cook off the water, this should take 5-10 minutes.
  3. Now reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes until golden brown.
  4. Add in the spices and stir for 60 seconds.
  5. Chuck in the tomato passata, salt and 250ml of water and cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat.
  6. Use this time to dice the chicken into bite sized pieces and roughly chop the spinach.
  7. Add the spinach and chicken to the pan along with salt and pepper to taste, don't worry if it looks like a lot of spinach, it will cook down.
  8. Add a lid and cook for 25 minutes over a medium heat.
  9. Grate the ginger.
  10. After 25 minutes remove the lid and add the remaining ghee and ginger stir and cook for 5 more minutes or until the curry thickens.

Notes

Serve with naan bread and maybe a little rice if you are feeling greedy!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 636 Total Fat: 40g Saturated Fat: 20g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 18g Cholesterol: 278mg Sodium: 450mg Carbohydrates: 26g Fiber: 8g Sugar: 6g Protein: 50g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

18 thoughts on this Recipe:

  1. Hello. Could I just check, is it dried fenugreek leaves that I should be using? Is it possible to substitute with ground fenugreek and if so, how much would you use? Iโ€™m guessing the leaves and the ground seeds might taste quite different. Thank you. Gill

    • Hey Gill, yes you can use fenugreek powder and seeds, I use it in a few of my “creamier” curry recipes. It has a similar flavour but it is much more “punchy” and aggressive in flavour than the leaves, particularly on the bitterness front. If you can get seeds then toast them before crushing helps knock that back a little, if using straight-up powder then I would say start at around a 1/4 tsp and check the flavour. I suspect you will settle somewhere a little over 1/2 a tsp ๐Ÿ™‚

      Enjoy

  2. Weโ€™ve used many of your recipes which we love. Tried this one last night and it was very bitter. Have researched fenugreek and coriander, both which read to have bitter undertones, your recipe states quite large quantities of these two spices in relation to the others. Just checking that they are correct and if so, maybe we personally need to reduce the amounts. Definitely going to give it another go but would welcome your input. Great website, we love it.

    • Hey Snuzey, glad you like my recipe ๐Ÿ™‚ The ‘bitter’ flavour profile of the recipe is largely a result of the spinach, I like it this way, however the best way to change it up is to cook the spinach quickly rather than slowly. Throw in the spinach at stage 10 with the ginger and ghee and just let it wilt for 5 minutes and that should scale back that iron-rich flavour that I suspect you are not enjoying so much ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Am I reading the recipe correctly? The onion/garlic is dry fried? No oil? And the grated ginger is added last and not cooked through?

    Can I tarka/temper the ghee and ginger together, and then add it to the curry? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hey Jeff, I’ve updated the recipe to make the instructions clearer… On the subject of the ginger, yes add it at the end and just cook it for 5 more minutes or so to keep the flavour vibrant and fresh. You could temper it in ghee if you wanted ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hi Brian. Your recipes look amazing! I’m looking forward to trying them out on my family. I was wondering if you had an email subscribers list that I could sign up to get your recipes sent to me regularly?

    • Hi Rebecca… My site has recently undergone a redesign and I have yet to put my sign up form back in. You can sign up here, http://eepurl.com/bpqebH I email once a week on a Sunday evening (Central European Time) with my new posts in the past week ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I love this! It’s a dish I often make at home but I have to go easy on the spinach these days otherwise my kids avoid all of the sauce!

  6. This dish so takes me back to many a British curry restaurant, as I’m sure it does for you. Looks wonderful – like the tip about adding ghee and ginger at the end, I must try that.

    • Thanks Caroline… Adding the ghee at the end is very much similar to classic European cooking, enriching sauces with butter but the ginger thing blew my mind. It adds a wonderful warm ginger heat and top note to the recipe which I loved!

  7. Absolutely delicious, would love some for my lunch with one of your delicious naans, apart from armchoor which I never heard of I love all the ingredients in this recipe, going to shop for chicken and spinach this afternoon!

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