I know there are several variations of this dish but I tried to create a creamy one without using cream. In some variations, I notice that the spinach loses its vibrancy and can be gritty so I created the dish where part of the spinach is pureed and the rest is added in the end. In India, Saag will often be made from mustard greens, silverbeet or other greens but I’ve used spinach. You can adjust the number of green chillies based on how hot they are and also your heat tolerance. The curry is not meant to be hot – kind of flavourful and spicy with a touch of chilli heat.
400g chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
200g fresh spinach
200g onions, finely chopped
2 medium sized tomatoes
3 tablespoons oil
2 cardamom pods
5-6 cm piece of cinnamon
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves to garnish
For the spice paste
40g cashew nuts, soaked in hot water for half an hour
5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
5-6cm piece of ginger, chopped
2-5 green chillies, chopped
Generous handful of coriander stalks and leaves, roughly chopped
Lightly cut a cross pattern of about 1cm by 1cm on top of the tomatoes. Put them in a pot of boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove and once cool enough to handle, remove the skins. Dice and set aside.
Blanch the spinach leaves in a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain and refresh in plenty of cold water. Cut the stalks and lower portion of the leaf so you can use in the spice paste. Finely cut the remaining leaves and set aside.
Put the ingredients for the spice paste in a food processor along with the stalks and lower portion of the spinach. Make a fine paste.
In a kadai or a sauté pan, heat the oil. When hot enough, add the cinnamon, cardamom and fennel seeds. When spice flavour becomes evident, toss the onions and fry on medium heat for ten minutes. Add the chicken pieces and stir fry for five minutes. Put the garam masala along with the spice paste. Mix in the tomatoes, increase the heat and stir fry for another five minutes. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if needed. Season with salt and cover with a lid and cook for a further five minutes.
Stir in the reserved spinach and once heated through turn off the heat. Sprinkle with fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice or rotis. Serves 4.