Name of recipe

Chicken 3.7: Saag chicken

English description

Succulent chicken cooked in a spiced spinach gravy


A popular dish in the North Indian cuisine, chicken is cooked until tender and simmered with spices in a nutritious spinach gravy. Saag can mean just spinach leaves or a mix of spinach and mustard leaves. Although a variety of spices are used, their carefully balanced proportions accentuate the flavour of the spinach.


Preparation time

30 minutes

(Plus marination time: 6 hours or ideally overnight)


Cooking time

45 minutes





Tastes: (on icon of spice meter)




For the marinade

1kg boneless chicken, skin removed and cut into bite-sized pieces

½ cup thick plain yoghurt or Greek yoghurt

1 tsp. coriander powder (dhania powder)

1 tsp. cumin powder (jeera powder)

½ tsp. red chilli powder

½ tsp. garam masala powder

1 tsp. ginger paste

1 tsp. garlic paste

½ tsp. salt


For the spinach gravy

260g spinach

1 cup water                  

2–3 green chillies


2 large black cardamom seeds

1 clove

2 large onions, chopped

2 tsp. garlic paste

2 tsp. ginger paste

½ tsp. red chilli powder

½ tsp. turmeric powder

1 tsp. coriander powder

1 tsp. garam masala powder

Salt to taste

½ cup plain thick yoghurt or Greek yoghurt

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. oil


For the marinade

In a large bowl, whisk the yoghurt, then add all the spices, salt, ginger, and garlic paste. Stir to combine well. Add chicken and mix well to coat evenly. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least six hours or ideally overnight.


For the spinach gravy

Boil spinach until cooked. Process it into a puree with a hand mixer or blender, and keep aside.


Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat. Cook the chicken pieces, along with its marinade, for around 5–6 minutes each side or until tender. Take the chicken out of the pan and keep aside.


In the same pan, melt butter on low heat. Add cardamom and clove and stir. Add onions, stir and sauté until it turns light brown. Add ginger and garlic paste, and stir and sauté for another 2–3 minutes.


Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, salt to taste (note we have already added salt in the marinade), and yoghurt. Do not stir immediately, as yoghurt will curdle. Cook gently on low heat for 3–4 minutes or until the oil has separated.


Add spinach purée to the onion masala, cover, and cook for 3–4 minutes until it comes to the boil. Add chicken and cook on high heat for 4–5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until any excess water has evaporated, the oil surfaces and the chicken pieces are well coated with the spinach gravy.


Serve with roti or tandoori roti

Ruby’s tip

The chicken pieces are meant to be well-coated with the spinach gravy. The consistency of this preparation is thick.


The chicken can be marinated overnight and refrigerated. The spinach puree can also be made the day before. This way, cooking time can be halved on the day.