Recipe: Chicken Saag And Dal


When having mates over for a Big Night In so often a curry night is the first choice. These two curries are always winners, even if your guests aren't a big fan of spice. This week it's plenty for 6 people, as we'll be joined by our competition winners!



  • 250 g yellow or red lentils
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cm piece of root ginger
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander
  • 2 tbsp ghee

Chicken Saag

  • 400 g fresh spinach
  • 750 g boneless chicken thigh
  • 2 white onions
  • 2 cm piece of root ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 400 g tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • 1 pinch of salt

Pilau Rice

  • 600 g Basmati rice
  • 900 ml boiling water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp salt

To Serve

  • 200 g cucumber raita
  • 200 g mango chutney
  • plenty of Indian breads
Rinse and cook the lentils

Step 1

Rinse And Cook The Lentils

Rinse the lentils thoroughly in cold water, then soak in cold water for 2 - 3 hours, refreshing the water occasionally. Boil the lentils in a pot with 1 litre of salted water for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and adding more water if required, you’re aiming for a thick soup consistency.

Dal spicing

Step 2

Dal Spicing

Peel and blitz the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli (with seeds) for the dal into a paste using a food processor, or dice really fine. Heat the ghee in a frying pan, add the paste to fry for a few minutes until softened and beginning to brown. Add the asafoetida, turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder and fry for a few more minutes.

To finish the Dal

Step 3

To Finish The Dal

Toss the fried mixture in with the dal, then stir in the diced tomatoes, salt and pepper. Pour into a dish and sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander.

Prep the spinach

Step 4

Prep The Spinach

Pour boiling water over the spinach in a large bowl, then leave for a minute until wilted. Drain and purée in a blender, using a tiny bit of water if required.

Chicken curry base

Step 5

Chicken Curry Base

Peel and finely chop the onions, garlic and ginger for the saag. Dice the chicken into bite-sized pieces, cutting away any sinew or fat. Heat a little oil or ghee in a deep pan, add the chopped onion, garlic and ginger then fry on a medium heat for a few minutes until softened. Tip in the chicken and lightly fry to sear on all sides. Pour in the tinned tomatoes, the chilli powder, ground coriander, garam masala, cumin and cinnamon stick.

Complete the saag

Step 6

Complete The Saag

Bubble over a medium heat for about 10 minutes then add the puréed spinach and mix thoroughly. Cover and leave to simmer for a further 5-10 minutes until the chicken is completely cooked. Finish with the cream and simmer for a minute before seasoning with salt to your taste. Keep warm until you’re ready to serve.

Braised rice

Step 7

Braised Rice

Place the rice in a large baking dish with the cinnamon stick, star anise and cardamom pods. Pour the boiling water over the rice, stir and cover with tin foil. Bake in an oven at 200 degrees C for 25-30 minutes until the rice is cooked and plump.

Hungry for more? Try one of these!