chana saag

$6.40 recipe / $1.07 serving

Sometimes, when I’m suffering from a creativity block, all I need to do is take a stroll through Whole Foods… the freezer aisle in particular. Yesterday I did just that and saw a frozen dinner called Chana Saag. I didn’t look too closely, I just saw chickpeas and spinach and knew that’s what I wanted to eat. Yummmmm.

I made this Indian Style Creamed Spinach a while back and although it was a little complex to make, it was one of the best things I had ever tasted. So, I decided to simplify that recipe, add chickpeas, and call it a day. I can proudly say that it was a very good day.

This recipe can be made either hot or mild depending on what type of curry powder you use, but either way the fragrant spices will be heady and flavorful. The evaporated milk adds just the right amount of natural sweetness and creamy flavor to balance those Indian spices. You can probably use coconut milk in its place, but be sure not to let it come up to a simmer or else it may curdle (I learned that the hard way in previous recipes).

I suggest serving this over rice or with some homemade naan to sop up the sauce. I served mine with some rice and while I usually go for jasmine rice, the Chana Saag was so flavorful that plain white rice did the job nicely.

Chana Saag

Chana Saag

4.5 from 13 reviews

chana saag
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Total Cost: $6.40
Cost Per Serving: $1.07
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1 medium onion $0.36
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 2 inches fresh ginger $0.15
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder (hot or mild) $0.30
  • 1 tsp cumin $0.05
  • ¾ tsp salt $0.05
  • 1 large tomato $0.84
  • 1 lb. frozen chopped spinach $1.53
  • 1 (19 oz.) can chickpeas $1.65
  • 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk $0.99
  • ½ cup water $0.00
Instructions
  1. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add both to a large skillet with the olive oil. Use a vegetable peeler or the side of a spoon to scrape the skin from the ginger. Once peeled, grate the ginger on a cheese grater straight into the skillet. Sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and transparent. While these are cooking, dice the tomato.
  2. Add the curry powder and cumin to the skillet and continue to stir and cook for one minute more. Add the diced tomato and salt. Continue to cook for about five minutes more, or until the tomato has broken down and is no longer holding its diced shape.
  3. Drain the chickpeas in a colander and give them a quick rinse. Add the rinsed chickpeas, frozen spinach, and a half cup of water to the skillet. Stir everything together and then bring it up to a simmer over medium heat. Let the mixture simmer for five minutes so that the flavors can meld and everything heats through.
  4. After five minutes most of the water should have simmered away. Turn the heat down a bit (medium-low) and add the evaporated milk. Depending on how thick you want the sauce, you can either just heat through or let it simmer until thickened. If you prefer a smoother Chana Saag, you can use an immersion blender to purée some of the mixture, or transfer half of it to a blender and carefully purée it.* I left mine chunky. Once it’s heated through, adjust the salt and curry powder to your liking.

*Remember, never purée hot mixtures. Allow it to cool slightly before puréeing in a blender.

Chana Saag

Step By Step Photos

onion, garlic, gingerFirst dice the onion, mince the garlic, and grate the ginger. Add them all to a large skillet with the olive oil. In the south we refer to as bell pepper, onion, and celery as the “holy trinity,” but in my house, THIS is the holy trinity. SO GOOD.

gingerIf you’ve never used fresh ginger before, this is how I do it. I just use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin (some scrape it off with the side of a spoon) and then use a small cheese grater to grate it. If you don’t have a small cheese grater, a larger one will also work, you’ll just have larger pieces.

curry powderSauté the onions, garlic, and ginger over medium low heat until they’re soft and transparent. Then add the curry powder and cumin, and sauté for a minute more. The spices will stick to the bottom of the skillet, but it’s okay because the juice from the tomatoes in the next step will dissolve it off. Just make sure that the heat is not up so high that they burn.

diced tomatoesWhile the onions are sautéing, dice tomatoes. Add them to the skillet and sauté for about five minutes more, or until they tomatoes break down a bit. Oh yes, add the salt too because that will help them break down.

cooked tomatoesAfter five minutes it looks something like this. I have to admit, it smells and tastes pretty amazing at this point.

bagged spinachFor this recipe I prefer to use chopped spinach that comes frozen loose in a bag. It has much less moisture than the kind that is frozen in a block, so I can just add it to the skillet without thawing or draining. If you use the block kind, you’ll have to let it thaw and then squeeze out a bunch of water. Also, make SURE to get chopped or else you’ll have stringy, long pieces of spinach.

spinach chickpeasDrain and rinse the chickpeas, then add them to the skillet along with the frozen spinach and about a half cup of water. Turn the heat up to medium and let it all come up to a simmer. Let it simmer for about five minutes.

evaporated milkAfter it simmers for a few minutes, turn the heat down a touch and then pour in the evaporated milk.

finished chana saagStir everything together, heat it through, taste, and adjust the salt and curry powder to your liking. You can let it simmer a bit longer if you want a thicker, less soupy mixture, but I kind of like that so that the rice or naan has something to soak up. If you want a smoother, less chunky Chana Saag, you can use an immersion or stick blender to puree some of the mixture, which will also thicken it up some.

Chana SaagWhatever texture you choose, it’s freaking delicious.

37 Comments

  1. Looks wonderful!

  2. At this all week last week as leftovers! soooo yummy!

  3. Rachel says:

    This is heating up on my stove right now :) Doubled the curry powder and sautéed the onion, garlic, ginger (added a bit of shallot) in peanut oil. Yum!

  4. Kate says:

    This is INCREDIBLE. Love your blog!

  5. Ashleyreddixiecuo says:

    Out of the park flavor! Made enough for 5-6 single girl meals and was a lot of fun to make. I really like the building of flavors that happens with Indian spices and this is a great way to experience that

  6. tazie says:

    this looks delicious…I have all the ingredients in my pantry…going to make it this weekend. I’m going to have it with jasmine rice and maybe some naan bread.

  7. Heidi says:

    Would this freeze well?

  8. Theresa says:

    Hi Beth, I am a big fan of your site! Was wondering if I could leave out the evaporated milk?

    • The evaporated milk is really key in this dish. If you want to avoid dairy or just don’t want to use evaporated milk, you can use coconut milk instead. Just make sure not to let the heat get too high on the coconut milk or else it will curdle.

  9. Hi Beth! This recipe looks yummy! A question about the curry powder–what brand do you use? Also, what is in it? Thanks!

    • It’s a brand called Sharwood’s. I really don’t know anything about that brand in particular, I just picked it up from the ethnic aisle at my local grocery store :) It is pretty good, though! Curry powder can be made a million different ways, but it’s usually a blend of spices like corriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, pepper, and/or several other things. It’s a very versatile spice blend – give it a try!

  10. Crystal says:

    Loved this recipe too! My husband was very suspicious, especially at the tomato-onion part, which he said looked “already eaten,” ha. But by the end, he was a fan. I love that the dish is so concentrated with greens!

  11. Cassie says:

    Wow! I had a tupperware of frozen leftovers of this that I wanted to use. But I thought it needed something extra. So i added shrimp, more fresh ginger, kale, and served it over a bed of brown rice. Oh my, it seriously transformed into a completely different and equally satisfying meal. I LOVE taking leftovers and making it into something new :)

  12. Sarah says:

    Wow – this sounds amazing! Definitely going to give it a try. Any thoughts about using fresh spinach rather than frozen? We tend to keep fresh baby spinach around the house so I’d probably try to use that if I can.

    • Swapping fresh for frozen spinach should be very easy. Just add the fresh spinach at the same point that I added the frozen spinach, and cook it down until wilted. You might want to add just a few handfuls at a time and let it wilt before adding more, though, so that your skillet doesn’t overflow. :)

  13. I just made this for dinner tonight, and all I have to say is WOW! It tastes super authentic, and we very easy to make. Thank you for sharing!

  14. Taylor says:

    Made this last night and turned out pretty well! I thought it was a little too milky tasting so next time I won’t add an entire can of evaporated milk. It was still very tasty and easy, though, and I’ll definitely come back to it.

  15. Julie says:

    I tried this tonight and I liked it, but it was a little bland for my taste. I followed the recipe exactly too! Any tips on making it a bit spicier? I added more curry powder, but that didn’t really help.

  16. Timi Pap says:

    I just made this recipe-very delicious but I think (or at least for m taste) there is a bit too much spinach. It takes away some of the flavor, so I think next time I’ll add like half a pound instead of the whole pound of spinach. With that said-I love how you make these recipes so simple and easy to follow yet delicious (and still healthy).

  17. Katrina says:

    I’ve been on a quest for a good saag recipe for years and I’ve finally found it! Thanks so much for sharing.

  18. Katie says:

    I made a slightly slapdash version of this the other night and it was delicious. I usually steer away from really creamy curries because I can’t quite manage the idea of eating 1/2 a cup of cream at a time, so I really like the idea of using evaporated milk instead – all of the creaminess for a fraction of the calories/fat. In the Netherlands evaporated milk apparently goes by “Coffee Milk,” which I was a bit skeptical about, but it worked really well. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Valerie Owens says:

    Thank you for this recipe! I was out of curry powder, so I used garam masala instead, and kept everything else in the recipe the same. It was really good! My Indian neighbor brought over some fried paneer earlier in the day so I threw that in at the end too. Yum.

  20. Just tried this one tonight with a mix of fresh spinach and kale since that’s what I had on hand. It was so good!

  21. Constanza says:

    Beth, I love your blog. It is wonderful. I’ve made many of your recipes in my versions and I just love them!!!
    Thank you for posting your creations, you inspire me when I’m without a clue to what to cook, I just take a look at your website and that’s it!
    Today I’ve made this Chana Saag with homemade chickpeas and fresh spinach accompanied by brown rice. Mmmm it was simply delicious!

  22. Katie says:

    I gotta say, I was skeptical when I initially tried the finished product. On the stove, it tasted way too creamy and fairly bland. I added more curry powder and a few dashes of cayenne and still wasn’t impressed. Luckily, I was steaming my rice so I had to let it sit for another 20 minutes.

    When the rice was done, I gave myself a tiny portion–and then immediately went back for a heaping bowl-ful. It was spicy, flavorful, and filling. Like one of the other commenters said, the spices build on one another as you eat and it tastes very authentic.

    I think one of the keys to a flavorful curry is to let it sit and really blend the flavors, and I’m glad I (accidentally) did this before casting my verdict. This is a perfect weeknight curry that doesn’t require a lot of cutting and prepwork, and I will definitely make it again. Possibly with coconut milk.

  23. Jenna says:

    I am a Chana Saag fanatic and when I saw this super simple and cheap recipe I had to try it.
    Oh.
    My.
    God.
    This is the BEST Chana Saag recipe ever.
    LOVE IT, love it, love it and will be making it all the time.
    Thank you for such a kick ass recipe!

  24. Katie says:

    Omg delicious. Omg. Been wanting to make this for months but just never had chickpeas on hand. Finally! Your recipes neverrrrrr disappoint!

  25. Stephanie says:

    This was wonderful. I only added about 2/3rds of the evaporated milk, and I let it cool just a bit before serving over brown rice. It sold my fiancée who is always on the fence with Indian cuisine. And now I have super tasty leftovers (and I usually hate leftovers).

  26. Margaret says:

    My son passed this recipe to me and I’m very impressed. It was delicious. Like the other reviewer I had run out of curry powder and used garam masala instead. Result!!

  27. Stephanie says:

    Made again. Not even a full week later. Love this recipe!

  28. Claudia says:

    Think fat free or low fat evaporated milk might work well?

  29. Robin says:

    Tried this last weekend and I could eat it everyday for a week! Unfortunately (or fortunately) my family also loved it and there were no leftovers. Even my 11 year old loved it! I’m always trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our diet for the health benefits but I tend to meet resistance from my husband and oldest daughter – not this time though! Thanks for the awesome recipe Beth!

  30. Charlotte says:

    Okay, I kind of loved this. I made it exactly per the recipe and it was great. I ate it atop some crusty bread because that’s what I had – can’t wait to try it on flatbread or rice.

    Once I can find some paneer, I think I’ll add some of that and see how that works.

  31. Sallie says:

    This stuff is yummy. I don’t mind the evaporated milk taste but when I make this I usually end up with 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons curry powder.

    I add a little pineapple, green onions and raisins to this dish before serving. My mom serves chicken curry with those so I tried the Chana Saag that way. I think I’ll try it with peanuts next.

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