Saag Murghi


Please excuse my attempt to put an Indian title on this recipe.  The inspiration dish is saag paneer and I believe that means “spinach with cheese” or something close to that.  🙂  I know that saag means spinach.  So, “saag murghi” as it were, came from a quick google: “indian word for chicken.”  Murghi=chicken.  Probably.

I made this up to satisfy my saag paneer craving, but I needed it to be higher in protein, lower in fat, and potentially dairy free.  I am using the chicken as a replacement for the paneer cheese.  With the turmeric seasoning, it really does come close. 

This is so good.  Aarti knew what she was doing and if you don’t care about elimination/fat content, make hers.  But if you are trying to eat cleaner, up your protein, and watch your fat intake, I think this is a great rewrite.  I have made it many times.  Just finally getting around to blogging it after my crazybusy year moving from Hawaii to the UK while trying to keep five kids alive.  

Saag Murghi

1/2 pound chopped cooked chicken breast
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp water

2 pounds (32 oz) frozen spinach
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 1-inch “thumb” minced ginger
4 cloves minced garlic
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional but yummy)
1/2 tsp garam masala (recipe below)
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

full fat plain yogurt – or – cream cheese
ghee or butter

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the water, turmeric, and salt.  Add the chicken and toss to coat.  Set aside. 
  • Thaw spinach in microwave.  Pour into colander to allow to drain a little bit while you are prepping the onions…but you don’t need to squeeze it dry.  
  • In a large skillet over medium heat saute the onions, ginger, garlic and jalapeno.  NB:  1.  Saute the mixture for 15-20 minutes until the onions are toffee-coloured.  This is the base of the dish and is worth the wait.  2. Do not burn the garlic.  There is no recovering from burnt garlic.  If you feel like the mixture is drying out, add a few tablespoons of water. 
  • Add the garam masala, coriander and cumin.  Sprinkle more water to keep from burning, cook spices 3-5 more minutes to release the flavors. 
  • Add the spinach and stir well. Add salt and pepper.  Once it is heated through evenly, add in the seasoned chicken pieces.  Cook until everything is warmed evenly.  
  • Stir in 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup of yogurt (or my preference: cream cheese).  *Be careful with the yogurt, it can curdle if the pan is too hot.
  • If you are wanting to count your macros a little more carefully, omit the butter, and add the cream cheese/yogurt separately: as a measured topping for your own portion.  I am counting fat right now, so no butter and I put my cream cheese on top by measured teaspoons, as shown in the picture.
  • Serve over rice, with naan, or you can eat this as a one-dish meal.  
  • Serves 4-6.

1.  A *very* basic Garam Masala can be quickly mixed together with equal parts ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, and ground cloves.
2.  Avoid really dry chicken breast if possible.  “Moister” chicken is closer to the texture of paneer.  (Don’t tell me not to say the word moist.  I don’t get that aversion at all.)  
3.  If you want the saag to be “dippier” I recommend adding a good bit of butter…maybe 3-4 tablespoons. But then you’d have to tell MFP.
4.  Honestly, the more cream cheese and butter you stir into this the better.  But your MFP macro table will not indicate this.
5.  Kala Jeera.  This recipe tastes AMAZING with Kala Jeera stirred in with the spices.  I left it out of this recipe because it can be hard to find.  Another name for this is “whole cumin seed.”  But, if you see it in your spice aisle, grab it.  Add a teaspoon of it when you are sautéing the onions, you are another step closer to being in a restaurant.  


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

P.S.  I would be completely confident hosting an Indian food dinner party with this saag, and the three recipes below.  The meat dishes can be prepared ahead and reheated on the day of the gathering.

Murgh Makhani Butter Chicken


Ground Lamb Kheema


Chicken Tikka Masala

Do you have a favorite Indian dish you make at home?  Please share with me in the comments. 🙂


2 comments on “Saag Murghi”

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.