Chana saag – Chickpea and Spinach curry

Indian cuisine is incredibly diverse and always a fantastic option for vegetarians and vegans. I know the jars of already-cooked sauces are very convenient but cooking the sauce yourself doesn’t have to take more than half an hour. This saag has lovely warm flavours, and the chickpeas (also known as chana) and potato give it a wonderful texture.

Despite the exotic flavours and the spices used, I think dishes can be simplified to be Indian inspired. I do not claim that this is authentic but it tastes pretty much like the saags that I have when I go to an Indian restaurant. One thing I do like to do is use the traditional method of tempering the spices, especially cumin seeds as it releases their wonderful flavour into the sauce. A saag is a sauce that is made with spinach, and typically it is the spinach that makes the sauce creamy and gives it a characteristic deep green colour. In this case I used a little less spinach than I would have liked, a case of working with what you’ve got at that particular moment, but it still turned out wonderful. Other times I do add more and it turns out greener.

I make no apologies at using frozen spinach or tinned chickpeas. Everyone is welcome to soak the chickpeas the night before and then cook them separately, but while I do this for other dishes, sometimes I want convenience. Already cooked tinned chickpeas are perfect for this, all they need is a good rinse before using. The same goes for the spinach, and I find that for dishes such as these, frozen works just as well. Make sure to allow the spinach to defrost first though, otherwise the dish will take longer to cook.

Chana saag – Chickpea and Spinach curry
Yield: 4 Servings
Difficulty: Easy
Prep time:
Cooking time:

Description

Saag dishes are made with spinach and this version with chickpeas (also known as chana) and potato has a wonderful exotic flavour and texture. This is a quick easy version of the traditional saag recipe.

Metric
US/Cups

Ingredients

  • 400 g cooked chickpeas
  • 200 g frozen spinach
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red or green chilli
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp of chopped ginger
  • 4 tbsp of sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp of fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp mild curry power
  • 3 tbsp coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • 200 g tinned tomatoes
  • 300 ml of vegetable stock
  • 1 medium potato
  • 14 oz cooked chickpeas
  • 7 oz frozen spinach
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red or green chilli
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp of chopped ginger
  • 4 tbsp of sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp of fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp mild curry power
  • 3 tbsp coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • 7 oz tinned tomatoes
  • 1¼ cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 medium potato

Instructions

  1. Finely dice the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli ready to use.
  2. In a pan heat up the oil to a high heat, add the cumin seeds and fennel seeds. Allow these to sizzle and release their flavour for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the onion, turn the heat down to a medium heat and mix well.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic and chilli, and cook until the onion is translucent.
  5. Add the turmeric, garam masala, and curry powder and mix well.
  6. Add the tomato and vegetable stock. and bring to a gentle simmer.
  7. Add the chick peas, the spinach (defrosted) and chopped coriander leaves.
  8. Peel and dice the potato and add to the pan.
  9. Simmer for about 25 minutes until the sauce has thickened and season with salt and black pepper.
  10. In the meantime you can cook the rice for your dish.

Notes

If you can’t find garam masala, you can always use a combination of ground coriander, cumin, black peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, blended together.

You can use green or red chilli. Green chilli is more traditional, but if you only have red chilli then that works too. You can add as little or as much as you like depending on how spicy you like it.

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