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Easy Chicken Saag (Saagwala)

Feb 6, 2023 | 0 comments

This vibrant, fragrant chicken saag curry takes just 15 minutes to make so it’s perfect for busy weeknights. A smooth, super green sauce loaded with garlic, ginger and spices plus juicy chicken thighs? A perfect bowl of comfort that’s good for you too!

Chicken saag on a white and blue plate with rice, with more curry and naan on the side.

A smooth, thick, SUPER green curry sauce, mildly flavoured with lots of garlic, ginger and spices and juicy chicken thighs make what I think is one of the most delicious warming bowls of food you can make. It’s also PACKED with greens so it’s a wonderful way to get your veg in.

There are many different versions of saag. Some keep the leaves whole, with more of a chunky consistency, but this smooth version is the one I love best. Saag also comes in a variety of mediums – saag aloo (with potatoes), saag paneer or palak paneer (you can find that recipe in my free Fakeaway Favourite e-book), lamb saag and it’s also known as palak.

This is also a seriously quick dish. There’s no need to marinate the chicken for hours – we do it directly in the pan to save time, and dishes. It comes together in less than half an hour and you’d never know! It means it’s perfect for weeknights and for a takeaway weekend feast. I love serving it with garlic naan and steamed rice for a delicious fakeaway experience.


Everything you need to make this vibrant curry is easy enough to find at the store – and you probably have most of the spices already.

Ingredient for chicken saag laid out on a white marble background and labelled.
  • Chicken thighs. Go for skinless and boneless thighs here, and free-range. Thighs are best because they’re a cut that stays juicy – you can use chicken breast but there’s a risk it could dry out.
  • Greens. You can really use any leafy green here! I’m using silverbeet (Swiss chard), but traditionally saag is made with spinach leaves. You could also use kale or cavalo nero. Just make sure you strip the leaves from their tough stalks before using them. The cooking time on the greens will be different – spinach takes much less time to cook than tougher leaves like kale, so if you are using spinach, blanch the leaves for just 1 minute.
  • Aromatics and spices. You’ll need an onion (red, white, brown or use a shallot), garlic (either fresh cloves, or you can use pre-crushed) and ginger (I’m using pre-crushed ginger, but you can use fresh and just grate it yourself). We’ll also use ground cumin, coriander, garam masala and chilli flakes. The curry is mild so there’s not a lot of chilli in it – feel free to add a little more if you like your curries hot! Cumin and coriander are pretty common and you might well already have them in your cupboard, but if you struggle to find garam masala you can leave it out.

How to make it

Start by cooking the chicken. To save time (and dishes) we’ll just season the chopped thighs in the pan with a little salt. Let them sit undisturbed for about 4 minutes, so they develop a lovely golden crust. Then flip them over and cook for 4 minutes on the other side. Transfer them to a plate lightly covered with foil while you make the rest of the curry.

Get the diced onion in the same pan (keep all that lovely chicken fat in there – just scrape out any burnt bits) and cook it for a couple of minutes with salt and lemon juice until it starts to soften up. At this point, go in with the ginger, garlic and spices and stir, cooking for another minute until a fragrant paste forms. Transfer the paste to your blender.

PRO TIP: Adding the lemon juice with the onion will deglaze the pan after the chicken – loosening up all the lovely flavour from the bottom so it mixes with the onion and spices in your paste.

Blanch the greens in a large pot of boiling water for a couple of minutes, then if you like, transfer them into a bowl of ice water before adding them to the blender with your paste. Plunging them in the ice water will shock the leaves and lock that lovely green colour in, but you can skip it if you like, your sauce just won’t be quite as bright! Blitz your sauce until it’s super smooth – add a little of the blanching water if you’re finding your blender gets stuck. Taste, then add a little more salt and lemon juice if you think it needs something. Pour the saag sauce back into the pan you cooked the chicken in, and add the chicken back in. Give it a stir through the sauce over low heat, then you’re ready to serve.

I love serving this curry with steamed rice and garlic naan for a proper takeaway experience!

Got a question?

Can I use chicken breast?

Yes! I like chicken thighs best here because they’re a juicier cut, but chicken breast or tenders will be perfectly fine.

What is saag sauce made of?

It’s made up of loads of leafy greens, like spinach, kale, cavalo nero or Swiss chard, sauteed onion, garlic, ginger and spices like cumin, coriander and garam masala. It’s a lovely mild sauce that’s very nutrient-dense, but still absolutely delicious.

Can I make this ahead of time?

This saag – like most curries – will develop even MORE flavour over time so it’s perfect for making in advance. The only thing to keep in mind is that the colour of the sauce will dull a little the longer you keep it, so it won’t be quite as bright and vibrant as it was when you made it. It will keep well for 5 days, stored in the fridge in an airtight container. If you find the sauce thickens up a little too much for your liking after chilling, just add a tablespoon of water as you heat it either in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Can I freeze the curry?

It freezes really well – I’ve made this for my family to stock their freezers with and it defrosts really easily in the microwave, or you can let it defrost in the fridge overnight.

Do you have my free Fakeaway Favourites e-book?

Fakeaway Favourites book cover superimposed over a bowl of colourful salad.

It’s filled with my absolute favourite takeaway dishes you can make at home!

From a quick pad thai and saag paneer, to Korean fried chicken, beef rendang and chicken satay, you’ll love exploring the book.

Like this recipe? Here are some other fakeaways you might enjoy

If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave me a comment below.

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Chicken saag on a white and blue plate with rice, with more curry and naan on the side.

Easy Chicken Saag (Saagwala)

  • Author: Kate Alexandra
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Low Calorie


This vibrant, fragrant chicken saag curry takes just 15 minutes to make so it’s perfect for busy weeknights. A smooth, super green sauce loaded with garlic, ginger and spices plus juicy chicken thighs? A perfect bowl of comfort that’s good for you too!

Remember, if you’re looking for US measurements, use the ‘Units’ section below and click on ‘US’.


Units Scale

For the saag – 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 400g chicken thighs, skinless, boneless and free-range
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon crushed ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and grated or crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 500g baby spinach leaves (or use cavalo nero, silverbeet or kale)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

To serve (optional) –


  1. Make the rice. Add 1 ½ cups of rice to a small pot along with 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 ¼ cups of water. Set the pot over medium heat. Once the top of the water is looking a little foamy and starting to bubble, turn the heat to low and put the lid on your pot. If your pot doesn’t have a lid, use a wooden board or a plate. Leave it there with the lid on, undisturbed, for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, turn the heat off and remove the pan from the stovetop. Let it sit for another 10 minutes, then fluff up the rice with a fork and get ready to serve. PRO TIP: You can make the rice and the saag at the same time, cutting the cooking time right down.
  2. Cook the chicken. Chop your chicken thighs into bite-sized chunks, then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large frying pan or skillet over high heat and add the chicken pieces. Let cook in the pan for 4 minutes undisturbed to get some lovely charred bits (colour = flavour). Turn the chicken over, then cook for another 4 minutes. Remove the chicken onto a plate, then cover lightly with foil.
  3. Cook the onion, garlic, ginger and spices. Scrape any burnt bits out of the pan, but keep as much chicken fat in there as you can for the best flavour. Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, then add the diced onion, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula for 2 minutes, until the onion starts to soften (it’ll change colour and look more transparent). At this point, go in with the ginger, garlic, chilli flakes, garam masala, cumin and coriander. Cook for another minute, stirring until the garlic and ginger start to soften and the spices are smelling beautiful and fragrant. Transfer everything into a blender.
  4. Blanch the greens. Get a large pot, three-quarters full of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the greens, and cook for 3 minutes. PRO TIP: You can transfer them straight from the pot to your blender along with the spices, garlic, ginger and onion OR transfer them to a bowl full of ice water first. Putting them into ice water will ‘shock’ the leaves and preserve their vibrant green colour, so if you can do this extra step, I recommend it for the best colour at the end!
  5. Blitz the saag sauce. Transfer the greens to the blender too, then blitz into a super smooth sauce, adding a little more of the blanching water if needed. Taste, and season with a little more salt and lemon juice if you think it’s missing something.
  6. Garnish and serve. Pour the sauce back into the pan you cooked the chicken and spices in, then add the chicken back in with the sauce. Turn the heat to low, then stir the chicken through the sauce so it’s completely coated. Serve with steamed rice and garlic naan for a proper takeaway experience!


SUBSTITUTIONS: You can really use any leafy green here – I often use silverbeet (Swiss chard), cavalo nero or kale. If you do use these tougher leaves, you’ll need to blanch them for longer than baby spinach (about 3 minutes). Leave out the garam masala if you can’t find it, and you can reduce or increase the amount of chilli flakes, based on your preferences for a hot curry. Use skinless, boneless chicken breast or tenders if you like, they’ll work perfectly fine.

STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS: Store any leftovers in a covered container in the fridge for 4 days. The vibrant green colour will dull over time, but the flavour will still be there. You can also freeze the saag. I like doing this either in zip-lock bags, or in sealed glass storage containers. You can then defrost them overnight in the fridge, or in the microwave on a low heat.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: The saag is wonderful served with steamed rice and garlic naan as I’ve suggested in the recipe card, and it’s great served alongside a bit of a spread for a takeaway night. Try serving it with my easy New Zealand style butter chicken!

  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: fakeaways
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: indian


  • Serving Size: 1 bowl

Keywords: saagwala, chicken curry, spinach curry, palak, palak curry


I’m Kate, the creator behind Dished. I love creating flavour packed, simple (ish) recipes for you, designed for every day and special occasions.





This e-book includes my absolute favourite fakeaway recipes (popular takeaway dishes you can make at home!)

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