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Chicken Saag

Servings: 4

My husband and I were saddened when our favorite Indian restaurant switched from making their saag with chicken thighs to making it with chicken breasts. What had been a deeply satisfying dish suddenly came off as bland, so I tried replicating the saag at home. You can make this with fresh spinach, but frozen is easier and tastes just as good. Serve this creamy stew with naan or basmati rice.


  • 2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • Kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil; more as needed
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, minced (about 1 Tbs.)
  • 20 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and lightly squeezed of excess liquid
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped scallions
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  • In a medium bowl, combine the garam masala, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and 2 tsp. salt. Add the thighs and rub all over with the spice mixture. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
  • Put the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the thighs and cook, flipping once or twice, until just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. (It’s okay if they stick a bit and tear because you’ll be cutting them into pieces.) Transfer to a plate; they will cook more later.
  • If the pan looks dry, add a little more oil. Then add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up any bits, until the onion becomes translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and jalapeño, and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Add the spinach, scallions, and cream, and cook until the spinach is tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cut the thighs into 2-inch pieces. Add them and any accumulated juice to the pot and stir. cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as necessary, until the chicken is fully cooked, about 3 minutes. After that, the dish can sit on a low simmer for up to a half-hour and will only taste better for it. Season to taste with salt. Add the cilantro, toss well, and serve.


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