During the Holidays we had no plans. We went out with friends often, suddenly making a plan for a long drive or a movie night. It was fun having friends over and enjoying, laughing our hearts out to the slightest crack of a joke and chatting till the break of the dawn. This good time was even better when it was paired with great food.
We ordered food from a nearby Indian restaurant and on their menu was this “Chicken Saagwala”. This tasted so good that we all fell for it. Was it the chicken tikka that gave a great taste to the creamy spinach gravy or was it the good company that created the magic I don’t know, but I had in mind that I have to try the recipe in my kitchen. So here it is with all the smoky flavor of the chicken and smooth creamy texture of the bright green spinach, Chicken Saagwala or palak murgh is sure to hit the dinner table.
Chicken Saagwala or Palak Murgh
Recipe serves: 2-4 people
- 1 ½ bunch of fresh spinach
- 1 medium tomato grated
- 1 medium red onion finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- ¼ teaspoon whole cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon kasoori methi powder
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoons oil
- ¼ cup fresh cream
- 10-12 pieces of chicken tikka
For the Tikkas
- 450 grams boneless chicken thigh cut into cubes
- ¼ cup hung curd or yogurt
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 1 teaspoons coriander powder
- Pinch of turmeric
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
- ¼ teaspoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- 1 table spoon mustard oil (or any other oil)
- 1 table spoon lemon juice or white vinegar
- Salt to taste
- 5-6 bamboo skewers soaked in water
At first make a marinade for the chicken. Take a bowl and add hung curd, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric, red chilli powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder, kasoori methi, lemon juice, salt and oil and mix well. Now add the cubed chicken pieces and mix in well, cover and keep in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. When the chicken is well marinated, pre-heat the oven to 450 F. Now divide the chicken cubes between the skewers keeping some space in between. Place the skewers on a pan and grill in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. When the chicken is cool enough to handle take out from the skewers and keep aside.
In a large pot bring water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile trim the roots from the spinach and give it a good wash, drain and keep aside. When the water starts to boil switch off the heat and add the spinach. Now keep a colander and a big bowl of cold water ready. After adding the spinach, wait for 3-4 minutes just until the spinach stats to wilt. Drain the spinach in the colander and add to the bowl of cold water immediately and drain again. This process is called blanching. Blend in a food processor into a smooth puree.
Now in a heated pan add oil and add the whole cumin. When it starts to splutter add onions and stir. Add the ginger and garlic paste, grated tomatoes, salt, coriander powder and continue to stir for 3-4 minutes. If needed you may add a little water. Now add the pureed spinach and mix well with the spices. Add water to get the right consistency. The gravy should be of medium consistency. Check for seasoning. Add the chicken tikkas and mix well with the gravy. Add garam masala and kasoori methi and the fresh cream. Switch off the heat and give a final mix.
Enjoy with pulao or naan.
You may skip the process of making the chicken tikkas.In that case marinate the chicken cubes with salt, and ginger -garlic paste for half n hour and use while stirring the spices. You have to cook the chicken before adding the pureed spinach. To keep the bright green color of the spinach in the final dish it is important to blanch the spianch as directed. Do not cover the pan once the spinach is added or else it may lose the color.