Another Indian food staple in our house is Chicken Saag, which is incredibly healthy and just as easy to cook as any of the Indian meals in my cookbook. My wife's favorite to order at an Indian restaurant, Saag (sometimes listed as sagwala or palak) is a traditional Indian sauce made from spinach, mustard leaves, broccoli rabe, or any combination of greens. My version uses spinach, because it is one of the mildest greens, and broccoli florets, because I like the flavor and texture it adds. Though the green vegetables are heavily cooked, the sheer amount of them ensures that this dish maintains a good nutritional content. I use chicken because it is easy, but Saag is also common with lamb, goat (if you like that sort of thing...), Indian cheese (paneer), or fried potatoes (aloo). This recipe will work with all of these with only a few minimal changes. After Chicken Makhani, this is usually the second Indian dish I recommend to people who are new to Indian cuisine.
Warm up the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. Sprinkle the saffron threads over the warmed milk and let them steep. Meanwhile, coat the chicken in salt and pepper.
Peel and roughly chop the onion before putting it into a food processor. Pulse until it becomes a wet paste. Then heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil, bay leaves, and garlic. Stir until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the onion puree. (Rinse out the food processor and set it aside to be used again.) Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the chicken, cloves, and spices. Stir frequently until the chicken is no longer pink, 3-5 minutes.
Once there is no visible pink on the chicken, stir in the saffron milk, tomato sauce, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.
Puree the broccoli and spinach in the rinsed food processor. If your processor is small like mine (any generous reader looking to buy me a Christmas present can take the hint now), it may take several batches to get it all.
Stir the spinach and broccoli mixture into the chicken and onion mixture. Continue to simmer for an additional 20 minutes. When ready, remove the bay leaves (if you can find them) and salt to taste. Serve with rice and naan (or toast).
-e. magill 3/31/2011
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