Palak Murgh

Chicken curry with spinach, cardamom and fresh ginger


Could there really be anything better than a bowl of Palak Murgh served with jeera and peas pulao to soak up that rich thick gravy with moist chicken on the bone. Mixing grains of rice with the spiced spinach gravy and little pieces of chicken with every morsel is where I feel happiest delving in comfort food. I remember being really young and pestering my mum to make palak ki sabzi when it was in season. Going to the local market and bringing back bags of fresh spinach, picking the leaves and slow cooking it was always a labour of love. I always enjoy it with a steaming bowl of rice rather than rotis/chapattis.

Unless I am eating Sarson ka saag/ Punjabi slow cooked mustard leaves with spices and butter. I always ate it with Makki di roti; an unleavened flat bread made with cornmeal.

Saag Murgh or Palak Murgh as I call it; is a classic north Indian dish with pureed spinach that is cooked with chicken, spices and fresh coriander. Spinach inherently releases a lot of moisture and so will need to be cooked well to ensure the gravy is thick enough to coat the chicken pieces. In my recipe there is no water as the moisture comes from the chicken pieces, yoghurt in the marinade and also from the spinach. If you like a thinner consistency add a little more water while it is simmering. This for me is home cooking at its best.

Saag in India refers to leafy green veg and as the dish includes spinach it is also called Saag Murgh.


  1. In a large bowl mix all the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken pieces to this marinade and put a few cuts on the pieces to let the marinade soak in well. Mix well making sure all the pieces are coated. Leave overnight or even just 30 minutes is fine.


  2. Set aside a handful of spinach for later. Add the remaining spinach to a blender along with 50mls water and blend to a smooth paste. You can do this in batches if you prefer.

  3. In a blender add the ginger, garlic and chilli with 2-3 tbsps of water and blitz to a paste. Set aside.

  4. Heat a sauce pan and add the pureed spinach. Cook it on a low heat to rid of the moisture for 12-14 minutes until all the moisture has evaporated. Make sure to stir every few minutes. Set aside while you make the curry.

  5. Heat the oil in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add the whole spices including cardamom, bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Fry for 20-30 seconds. Add the onions and fry on a medium heat for 10-12 minutes. Stir well as the colour begins to change add the ginger garlic and chilli paste. Fry for a further 2 minutes stirring well. Add a splash of water if it begins to stick to the base of the pan.

  6. Make sure to scrap the base well and add the tomato puree. Fry for a couple of minutes and add the coriander powder. Stir well and add the marinated chicken pieces. Keep stirring making sure to seal the pieces well. Turn the heat up slightly and fry and seal the chicken pieces for 8-10 minutes.


  7. Now turn the heat to a low setting, season to taste and put the lid on cooking the chicken for 15-17 minutes. Stir halfway through the cooking process making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Now add the pureed spinach along with the garam masala and simmer on a low heat for a further 5-7 minutes with the lid on. Turn the heat off. Chop the handful of spinach you set aside earlier and add to the gravy. Stir well.

  8. Garnish with fresh coriander, slivers of ginger and kasoori methi (if using) Serve with naan or pulao and some raita.

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