Chicken Saag with Cucumber Raita

by Kelly on July 6, 2010

Just when I thought my food rut couldn’t get any deeper (you may have noticed my lack of posts), our CSA, Rare Earth Farm, delivered its first box of the season. How easy it is to forget the ease and joy of cooking after the harsh winter and cool spring of northern climates. But the box brought such an abundance of good, fresh produce I couldn’t help but be excited. Right now strawberries, spinach, and snap peas are making daily appearances at my house. The kids are delighted, though their clothes are suffering from the strawberry stains. And the spinach was so pretty, I had to photograph it even before the cooking began.

If you’re dealing with an overabundance of spinach, this chicken saag recipe is a great way to quickly use up a large quantity of it. The finished dish didn’t look quite as pretty as the bouquets of leaves I started with, but its creamy, delicate sauce more than made up for it.

Chicken Saag
adapted from Indianfoodforever.com

Serves 6

1 1/2 lb (680 g) spinach, stems removed if tough, washed and chopped
7 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 large onions, minced
1 x 14 oz (400 g) can of diced tomatoes, crushed with your fingers
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cardamom pods
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 lb (680 g) boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
basmati rice or naan, for serving

Put the spinach into a deep pan. Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) of water and cover. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. When cool, puree the spinach in a food processor or blender and set aside.

Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet or dutch oven. Fry the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in the skillet and add the ginger, garlic and onions and saute until lightly brown. Add the tomatoes, salt, cayenne, ground coriander, turmeric, cloves, and cardamom. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of water. Cook for 10 minutes over a low heat. Add the chicken and milk to the skillet and simmer until the chicken is tender and cooked fully, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the spinach puree and garam masala to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach starts sticking to the pan, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the butter. Keep the skillet covered until ready to serve. Serve with rice or naan.

***

Cucumber Raita

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) plain yogurt
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced small
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper or garam masala

Beat together the yogurt and milk with a whisk until very smooth. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle with cayenne or garam masala and chill for up to 2 hours. Serve this as a side dish to any spicy Indian dish.

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