Saag Chicken a delicious Indian curry in which marinated chicken is cooked in a sauce made of spinach and Indian spices
(This recipe was first published in June 2017 and has been updated)
The earthy flavors of spinach cooked in a mixture of Indian spices and onions is so unique and exquisite! Saag Chicken and Saag Paneer (paneer cooked in spinach sauce) are both some of our favorite curries to eat as a family, and my kids love the flavors of spinach in the sauce. The color of the spinach when cooked correctly, is so vibrant and beautiful too! This curry pairs well with Basmati rice or Indian Naan.
Looking for some popular Indian Chicken recipes? Take a look at our Chicken Dum Biryani recipe - where rice and chicken are cooked together to make a delicious dum biryani!
What is Saag Chicken or Saag Murgh?
Saag Chicken, aka, Saag Murgh, is made by cooking marinated chicken in a sauce made primarily with spinach and spices. The flavors are earthy, bold (from the whole spices and ground spice powders) and the dish is rich in flavor and nutrutional value. There is no added cream, and the additional of spinach improves the flavor so much!
Don't hesitate to try this recipe with younger kids if you are worried they wil not like spinach - the spinach vastly improves the flavor of the curry and there is no trace of bitterness at all!
Why this recipe works
- Authentic Indian recipe
- Spinach adds to the nutritional value of this curry
- Rich and delicious, without any added cream
Saag Chicken Ingredients
To make saag chicken, you will need the following ingredients:
Chicken - You can use either bone-in chicken legs and thighs of boneless chicken thighs (or breast). I have used bone-in chicken for this recipe.
Spinach - Use fresh spinach for the best results. Optionally, use frozen spinach.
Onions - use red or yellow onions, chopped
Vegetable oil (or use ghee)
For marinating the chicken:
- Ginger-garlic paste (or use freshly minced ginger and garlic)
- Turmeric powder
- Dried whole red chilies
- Bay leaves
- Kasuri methi (read about my guide to Indian spices to know more)
- Whole cumin
- Cinnamon Powder
- Garam Masala
- Coriander Powder
To make the saag chicken, start by marinating the chicken in salt, yogurt, ginger garlic paste, and turmeric powder. Mix the chicken pieces with the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl, cover with a cling film, and keep it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Place a large pot or Dutch oven on the stovetop. Add vegetable oil or ghee and bring to heat. Add the cumin and let it start to crackle. Then add the chopped onions. Saute the onions for a minute and add the whole red chilies, bay leaves, coriander powder, garam masala and cinnamon powder. Lower the heat and continue to saute. Do no let the spices burn.
Add the marinated chicken to the pot. Mix well, such that the chicken pieces are well coated in the onion-spices mixture in the pot. Cook for 7-8 minutes on low heat so that the chicken is cooked through.
You will have to flip the chicken pieces a few times so that they do not stick to the base of the pot. Add a little water if the spice residue at the bottom of the pot starts to burn.
Once the chicken is cooked, add the blended spinach. Mix well and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes on low-medium heat, with the lid on. Then open the lid and simmer for 2-3 minutes so that the excess water from the sauce is released.
Tips for making perfect Saag Chicken
Do not overcook the spinach: If you want to retain the vibrant green color of the spinach, you need to ensure that you do not overcook it. Add it to the chicken once the chicken is cooked through, and cook the spinach for no more than 8 minutes until it is cooked down. Overcooking the spinach will turn it dull in color.
Use frozen spinach as a substitute: The traditional way to saag murgh is to use fresh spinach, however, you can also use frozen spinach for this recipe. Simple thaw the spinach, add it to the recipe as seen in the detailed steps above. Cook as instructed.
No added water: This is a thick-ish gravy, in which no added water is required, and the dish cooks in its own juices. Adding water will make the curry diluted and runny.
More Indian Chicken Recipes
Saag Chicken Recipe
- 700 grams Chicken Bone-in or boneless
For the marinade:
For the Saag Chicken sauce
- Start by marinating the cleaned chicken pieces in the marinade of yogurt, ginger, salt and turmeric. Keep the chicken in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil or ghee in a large pot on the stovetop. Onece hot, add the cumin seeds.
- Once the sumin starts to sputter, add the chopped onions and saute for a minute.
- Add the dried red chilies, followed by coriander powder, garam masala, cinnamon, bay leaves. Saute for a minute more. Make sure the spices so not burn. Add a tablespoon of water if needed.
- Now add the marinated chicken to the pot. Mix well, coating the chicken in the spices from the pot.
- Let the chicken cook in the pot, for 7-8 minutes. Check to see if the chicken is sticking to the bottom and add a splash of water if need be. Stir occasionally, flipping the chicken pieces so they cook evenly.
- As the chicken is cooking, make the spinach puree. Add the rinsed spinach leaves in a blender with 3-4 tablespoons water. Blend until smooth.
- Once the chicken is cooked, add the blended spinach. Mix well and cover the pot with a lid.
- Cook for 5 minutes on low-medium heat, with the lid on. Then open the lid and simmer for 2-3 minutes so that the excess water from the sauce is released.
- Garnish with ginger juliennes and red chili flakes. Serve with a side of Basmati rice or Naan.