Chicken Saagwala

Indian food

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  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
518 Calories
33g Fat
9g Carbs
46g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 518
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g 42%
Saturated Fat 9g 46%
Cholesterol 146mg 49%
Sodium 221mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Protein 46g
Calcium 111mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Key ingredients in chicken saagwala, a light curry dish common in northern Indian cooking, include a light sauce made flavorful with turmeric, cinnamon, garam masala, and fresh spinach with lightly browned pan-fried chicken. It is one of the healthier dishes on the menu at many Indian restaurants. 

Team it with hot chapatis (Indian flatbread) or parathas (pan-fried Indian flatbread) to finish, and you have got a winning Indian dish that people of all ages will love.

This is also a dish that is easily prepared in advance by making the curry sauce recipe ahead of time and then cooking the full recipe with chicken and additional spices in small batches.


  • 2.2 pounds skinless chicken pieces (legs or breasts preferable)
  • 3 large bunches spinach
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 pods ​cardamom
  • 2 large onions (chopped very fine)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala powder
  • 2 medium tomatoes (chopped fine)
  • Garnish: 1 dollop of butter
  • Optional: Salt to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Wash the spinach well and chop. Put into a pot with half a cup of water, salt to taste, and boil till cooked.

  2. Grind the spinach into a paste in a food processor. Keep aside.

  3. Heat the oil in a pan on a medium flame and fry the chicken pieces until well browned. Remove and keep aside.

  4. Again heat the same oil, then add the whole spices.

  5. As the spices turn slightly darker, add the onion, ginger and garlic pastes and fry till the onions are pale golden in color.

  6. Add all the other spices: coriander, cumin, and garam masala. Fry for 5 minutes.

  7. Add the tomatoes and fry till the oil begins to separate from the masala.

  8. Add the chicken to this masala, mix well, and add half a cup of water. Cook till the chicken is almost done.

  9. Add the spinach and mix well. Cook until most of the water dries up. Remove from the fire and garnish with a dollop of fresh butter.

  10. Serve with hot chapatis (Indian flatbread) or parathas (pan-fried Indian flatbread).


  • Use fresh baby spinach: A key to maintaining a fresh and light flavor in chicken saagwala is by using fresh baby leaf spinach. While some may use canned or frozen spinach to make this dish, it does not pair as well with ginger and garlic as fresh spinach.
  • Choice of chicken: You will want to use skinless chicken so the dish is not swimming in oil from the fatty skin. You can opt to cook with the bones in to give the dish another layer of flavor and unctuousness. If you remove the bones, the end product is still delicious and is easier to eat as a meal.
  • Careful with the onions: Make sure to not overcook your onions, garlic paste, and ginger paste mixture. Keep the heat at medium and only cook until the onions begin to get translucent; they should not get browned at this point. If that mixture overcooks, it can give the entire meal bitter undertones.
  • Add some zing: Another way to dial up the flavor with a little tanginess is with a squeeze of lemon added at the end.

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