April 27, 2018

Saag Murgh Curry

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I adore saag (spinach) curries. They come in many delicious guises; this one features chicken (murgh).

1 tbsp
(15 mL) fenugreek leaves
1 tsp (5 mL) each: kosher salt, ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each: ground coriander, cayenne
1/4 tsp  (1 mL) turmeric
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) ground nutmeg
2 bunches
spinach (about 1-1/4 lb/600 g), stemmed, washed
3 tbsp (45 mL) ghee
2 lb (1 kg) bone-in chicken thighs, skin discarded, fat trimmed
1 large onion, grated
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 tsp (5 mL) puréed ginger
2 large plum tomatoes, chopped small
1/3 cup (125 mL) heavy cream (35%)
3/4 to 1 cup (175 to 250 mL) plain yogurt, to taste
Kosher salt to taste

Masala : Stir together ingredients in small bowl.

Curry: Put spinach with water clinging to leaves in large pan on medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until wilted, about 5 minutes. Drain, but do not press to remove more water. Reserve pan. Let spinach sit in strainer until lukewarm. Chop.

In large skillet, heat ghee on medium until shimmery. Add half of chicken. Cover with splatter guard. Brown about 5 minutes, turning when chicken releases. Use tongs to transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Measure 2 tablespoons of ghee from skillet and add to reserved pan. Heat on medium until shimmery. Add onion. Sauté until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger, then masala. Sauté 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes. Add spinach and cook 2 minutes, stirring often and scraping pan. Stir in cream. Stir in chicken and its juices. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until very tender, about 45 minutes.

Uncover, remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup (175 mL) yogurt. Add salt if desired. Add remaining yogurt if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

  • Drop into an Indian grocery store to get the fenugreek leaves; labelled “qasuri methi,” these have a smoky accent.
  • For vibrant flavour, Indians grind their spices just before using them.
  • Ghee is nutty, Indian-style clarified butter, sold in some supermarkets. Oil can be substituted.
  • Meat on the bone is tastier, but you can opt for boneless chicken and reduce the cooking time.
  • Grating the onion using the large holes of a box grater is an Indian culinary trick. Be warned: It will make you cry. Finely chop the ends you can't get at.
  • I fool with tradition and stir in the yogurt at the end, as it curdles and offends the eye when simmered.

Credit: Susan Sampson
Tested in Imperial