Kids Corner


Punjabi Chicken & Saag




With the rain thundering down, I am desperate for comfort food, but conscious of the need for a hit of green as well.

Happily, there are huge bags of spinach at the grocers, so I grabbed a couple. 

After a quick browse, I found a Punjabi recipe for Chicken With Spinach by Anjum Anand . I was almost certainly drawn by the fact it had 11 garlic cloves and that I had all the ingredients in stock.

I removed the skin from the chicken and jointed it into legs and breasts (I find doing this very stress relieving), turning the remaining carcass into stock. Even while cooking,  I was worried it wouldn't work. Why weren't the chillis chopped? It didn't seem like enough tomatoes. Was the dish going to end up too dry? Was there enough spice? Would it taste too spinachy?

However, it definitely altered my kind of "Toast the spices, then bung everything in attitude to curry", giving me a good appreciation for building levels of flavour.

This seems a good time to confess that I complained bitterly during  Anjum Anand's TV series about the episodic repetition  of the mantra, "Indian Food can be healthy, tasty and easy". But truer words are rarely spoken this was delicious , healthy and easy (though I have amended the timings from the original). There was a real depth of flavour from the bottom notes of chilli and garam masala, sweet cinnamon and fragrant lemony spinach. 

Punjabi Chicken with Spinach

500 g spinach leaves, washed
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cardamom  pods
2 bay leaves
5 cm piece cinnamon
3 green chillies, pricked with a knife
1 large onion, chopped
2 cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
11 garlic cloves, peeled

100 g of tinned tomatoes
800 g chicken, jointed, skin removed
2 tsp ground coriander
1½ tsp garam masala
4 tbsp plain yoghurt, stirred
freshly ground black pepper



1   In a food processor, blend the spinach to a purée.
2  Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon and fry for 20-30 seconds.
3  Add the green chillies and onion and continue to fry for 10 minutes, or until caramelised.
4  Meanwhile, blend the ginger, garlic and tomatoes to a smooth paste in the food processor.
5  When the onions have caramelised, add the tomato-ginger-garlic paste, chicken pieces and remaining spices to the pan and stir well to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and simmer 25 minutes, stirring regularly.
6  Add the yoghurt, stir well and continue to simmer the mixture until the sauce has thickened and almost dried out. (5 minutes)
7  Stir in the spinach purée and continue to simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until the chicken has cooked through. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then serve with rice.


August 28, 2010



Conversation about this article

1: Jaspal Singh (U.S.A.), August 29, 2010, 4:02 AM.


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