Indian Chicken Saag
India,  Meat and Poultry,  Recipes,  Winter

Indian Chicken Saag

The myth that spinach is a huge reservoir of iron is very old. Already in 1870 a doctor. E. von Wolf published a study claiming that spinach has ten times more iron than other leafy vegetables. The true Spinach fever occurred in the thirties of the twentieth century and was caused by Popeye the sailor who owed spinach for his giant muscles. However, in 1937, German scientists came to the conclusion that spinach had only a tenth of the amount of iron originally assumed. E. von Wolf apparently caused this error by inadvertently moving the decimal point so that the spinach does not contain 30 mg of iron but only 3 mg. Even though spinach is not an iron man among vegetables, it certainly has other benefits that I will mention later on.

It is generally claimed that children do not like spinach. My own children were no exception until they had tasted this traditional Indian recipe. So give it a try too… Saag term means “green” and it is one of the most famous Punjabi recipes.  In the northern regions of India, spinach is often added to meat and poultry. I cook this recipe in several variants. At the initial photo is a popular one of my children with coconut milk.

You will need:

300 g fresh spinach (optionally you can use ready-made spinach puree, frozen or canned)
grated ginger (approx. 2 cm)
2 chopped garlic cloves
1 chilli pepper (free of seeds and finely chopped, if you cook for kids you can, of course, omit it)
oil (I personally use organic coconut oil)
2 bay leaves
1 smaller onion (finely chopped)
4 smaller tomatoes (peeled and chopped) or one tin of canned tomatoes for lazy people like me
2 teaspoons of ground yellow curry (when I cook for kids I use mild Madras curry, but of course, you can choose a hotter variant or you can use yellow curry paste)
black pepper
chicken breast medallions about three-quarters of a kilogram (or skinless chicken thighs about 4 pieces)
3 large spoonfuls of thick white yoghurt or sour cream (plus extra for serving)
water or chicken broth, fresh coriander or parsley for the garnish

To try the option preferred by my children, instead of yoghurt, you will need canned coconut milk approx. 250 ml. The resulting sauce will be thinner and kinda sweeter.


If you are using fresh spinach, sauté it briefly under the lid without water. Then mix it together with garlic, ginger, chilli and some water. In a deep saucepan or skillet heat the oil, add the bay leaves, pepper and spices and fry for about two minutes to highlight their flavour. Add the onion and fry the mixture for eight minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for another five minutes. Then add the grounded curry, salt, mix well and simmer with the lid again. Add the spinach puree and broth or water (about 200 ml, but the amount can be adjusted according to the desired density) and let it braise for another five minutes. Then little by little add the yoghurt (or coconut milk) and mix well. Add the chicken and simmer under a lid for about half an hour or until the chicken is cooked and soft. Serve garnished with parsley or coriander (alternatively, decorate with yoghurt or sour cream) with rice or hot bread called naan.

From the TCM point of view:

I like Indian cuisine. Traditional Indian Ayurveda medicine, like the TCM, says that all five flavours should be present in every meal. The influence of Ayurveda clearly manifests in Indian cooking. Recipes often look complicated, but in fact, they are very sophisticated.  This recipe is a harmonious whole, moreover, it is easy to adjust it if necessary. I would like to give you a few examples of how you can play with the ingredients:

Spinach is cold in nature and has a sweet taste. Therefore helps in feverish conditions, bleeding from the nose, relieves thirst and constipation. On the contrary, the chicken is warm in nature and has a sweet taste as well. Strengthens and warms up the digestive system. Coconut milk is warm in nature, while yoghurt is cold in nature. If you reduce the amount of curry that has a long-term warming effect and add more chilli, which is extremely hot in nature you will shift the food toward the summer season. Why? Chilli has a cooling effect due to the extremely hot nature that causes sweating. I will not discuss the individual ingredients in detail. Instead, let your intuition flow or follow the cheat sheet, which you can find here.

This post contains affiliate links from which I’ll receive small commissions but the price is the same for you. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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