Indian food is one of the many ethnic foods I love.  With so many great dishes and flavors in Indian cooking, I've become familiar with various spices and condiments of that cuisine. Although I've never worked in an Indian restaurant, I know  one of the great and popular dishes is Saag paneer.  Paneer is a firm cheese that is cooked, and saag refers to spinach.  Chicken saag is really just chicken and spinach with the flavors of Indian cuisine.  In my recipe I make a few additions but keep the authentic taste of the original dish. To my taste, it actually makes it better.  One of the secrets in Indian cuisine is to marinade the meat in yogurt and spices.  Yogurt tenderizes the meat and adds flavor.  I cooked the meat in the marinade which gives a richness without adding  any extra milk or cream.  

Marinade

10 boneless skinless chicken thighs

3 small jalapenos

1 bunch cilantro leaves

4 garlic cloves

1 tbsp fresh ginger 

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 lime, juiced

Braise

2 lbs baby spinach

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp cumin

1tsp graham Marsala

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup  water

Salt

Finishing Saute

1 onion diced

1 tbsp ginger, minced 

4 pods cardamon 

2 tbsp olive oil 

1 cup roasted tomatoes

2 tbsp ground cumin

2 tsp graham Marsala 

1/3 cup water

 Salt and pepper

For the marinade.

Dice chicken into large pieces and place in a plastic bag. Puree the rest of the ingredients in a blender until smooth.   Pour the marinade into the bag of chicken and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For the Braise.

 In a large braising pan add two tbsp olive oil and minced garlic.  Sauté for 30 seconds and then add spinach, water, spices and a pinch of salt.  Cover, cook for 5 minutes and set aside to let it  steam for another 5 minutes.  Place the steamed ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree for 5 seconds.  Set aside until ready to use.

For the Saute.

Wipe out the same pot and turn it back on medium high heat.  Add another 2 tbsp of oil, ginger, and cardamon.  Toast spices for a minute and then remove the cardamon and discard.  Add onions and diced chicken along with the marinade in to the pot.  Season with cumin, graham Marsala, salt, and pepper.  Sauté for 3 minutes then add 1/2 cup of water and cover.  Cook for 5 minutes and then add the spinach and tomatoes.  Simmer lightly for another 10 minutes and the dish is done.  Adjust seasoning, and serve over basmati rice with naan.

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