Chicken with Spinach (chicken palag)

This chicken palag, also known as chicken saag, is married with spinach, tomatoes and Punjabi spice blends. Serve with a cool yoghurt relish and simple salad.

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Zahda asks her butcher to skin and chop the chicken into 12 pieces. No bones are removed. This is a simple Punjabi version of a classic dish, generally eaten with rice or flatbreads, a yogurt relish and a simple salad of onions, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Recipe adapted for the Curry Nation cookbook from an original recipe by Zahda Saeed (London).

Serves 6


6 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
3 medium onions, finely sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled
400g can plum tomatoes
1 tsp hot chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric
4 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp garam masala
1-1½ tsp salt
2 tsp peeled, finely grated root ginger
1.2kg (2lb 12oz) whole chicken, skinned and chopped into 12 pieces
450g (1lb) frozen spinach, thawed and finely chopped
4 tbsp whole milk
2 whole green chillies


Set a large pot, about 25 centimetres (10 inches) in diameter, over a medium heat. Add the oil and, when it’s hot, tip in the onions and whole garlic cloves. Stir and fry for a few minutes, then cover. Cook for 15 minutes until brown, stirring occasionally and adding a splash of water, if necessary.

Increase the heat to high and add the plum tomatoes and a little of the juice from the can. Stir and mash for two to three minutes. Add the chilli powder, turmeric, ground coriander and cumin and the garam masala, mashing until you have a thick sauce. Mix in the salt and ginger.

Put in the chicken pieces and brown them on all sides for two to three minutes. Cover and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to high and add the spinach, milk and chillies. Mix well and cook over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring now and then and adding small amounts of water if the chicken seems to stick or brown too much. Serve.

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