Chana Saag Curry – Chickpea and Spinach Curry

$7.67 recipe / $1.28 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.57 from 62 votes
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Sometimes, when I’m suffering from a creativity block, all I need to do is take a stroll through the freezer aisle. Yesterday, as I was perusing the freezer goods, I saw a frozen dinner called Chana Saag. I didn’t look too closely, I just saw chickpeas and spinach and knew that’s exactly what I wanted to eat. So I adapted my Indian Style Creamed Spinach recipe by adding a can of chickpeas to make it a more filling meal, and this Chana Saag was born. And whoa, is it good!!

Originally posted 5-7-2013, updated 2-29-2020.

A skillet full of chana saag with a wooden spoon, on a bamboo mat next to a tomato and bowl of rice

Is Chana Saag Spicy?

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 coconut milk adds just the right amount of natural sweetness and creamy flavor to balance the warm spices. 

How to Serve Chana Saag

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.

Can I Substitute the Coconut Milk?

Absolutely. The original version of this recipe used a 12oz. can of evaporated milk in place of the coconut milk. I’ve since grown to love coconut milk with curry powder, so I now prefer that, and it makes this recipe appropriate for both vegans and vegetarians, so I went with coconut milk. But it tastes great both ways!

WHAT KIND OF CURRY POWDER DO YOU USE?

I prefer to buy mild curry powder, that way I can make both mild and hot curries with it by adding my own cayenne pepper for heat, when I want. For this recipe, I used Sharwood’s mild curry powder. Or you can try making your own curry powder using this recipe for Easy Homemade Curry Powder from Spiceitupp.com.

Two bowls of chana saag with rice, next to the skillet and a piece of torn naan

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Chana Saag Curry

4.57 from 62 votes
Chana saag is a creamy chickpea and spinach curry that comes together quickly, is full of warm spices, filling, and vegan! Perfect for meal prep!
Two bowls of chana saag with rice, next to the skillet and a piece of torn naan
Servings 6
Prep 10 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 40 mins

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups long grain white rice ($0.95)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger ($0.30)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder hot or mild ($0.30)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin ($0.10)
  • 3/4 tsp salt ($0.03)
  • 1 tomato ($0.31)
  • 1 lb. frozen chopped spinach ($1.60)
  • 1 15oz. can chickpeas ($0.49)
  • 1/2 cup water ($0.00)
  • 1 13oz. can coconut milk ($2.79)

Instructions 

  • Begin the rice first. Add the rice and 3 cups water to a sauce pot. Cover with a lid, place the pot over high heat, and bring it up to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off, and let the rice rest for 10 minutes, undisturbed, with the lid in place. Fluff with a fork just before serving.
  • While the rice is cooking, begin the curry. Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and grate the ginger. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to a large skillet with the olive oil and sauté over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft. While these are cooking, dice the tomato.
  • 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.
  • 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 to allow the flavors to blend.
  • After five minutes, turn the heat down to medium-low and add the coconut milk. Depending on how thick you want the sauce, you can either just heat through or let it simmer until thickened. Leave your chana saag chunky ,or, if preferred, use an immersion blender to purée some of the mixture. Once it’s heated through, adjust the salt to your liking.
  • Serve the creamy chickpeas and spinach over a bowl of warm rice.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 360.03kcalCarbohydrates: 61.18gProtein: 11.2gFat: 8.57gSodium: 660.27mgFiber: 8g
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Close up of a wooden spoon scooping curried chickpeas and spinach out of a skillet

 

How to Make Chana Saag Curry – Step By Step Photos

Cooked rice in sauce pot
Begin the rice first. Add 1.5 cups rice and 3 cups water to a sauce pot. Cover with a lid, place the pot over high heat, and bring it up to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off, and let the rice rest for 10 minutes, undisturbed, with the lid in place. Fluff with a fork just before serving.

Onion Garlic and Ginger in a skillet
First dice one yellow onion, mince 2 cloves of garlic, and grate about one Tbsp ginger. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to a large skillet with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger over medium heat for a few minutes, or until the onions are soft.

Curry powder added to the skillet with onions garlic and ginger
Add 1 Tbsp curry powder and 1 tsp cumin to the skillet 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.

Tomato and Salt added to skillet
While the onions are sautéing, dice one tomato. Add the tomato to the skillet with 3/4 tsp salt and sauté for about five minutes more, or until they tomatoes break down a bit. 

Cooked tomato and spices
After five minutes it looks something like this. It will smell pretty amazing at this point!

Frozen spinach, chickpeas, and water added to the skillet
Add 1 lb. frozen spinach (no need to thaw), one 15oz. can chickpeas (drained), and ½ cup water. Stir everything together and then bring it up to a simmer over medium heat. Let the mixture simmer for five minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Add coconut milk to skillet
After simmering for five minutes, turn the heat down to medium-low and add a 13oz. can of coconut milk. Depending on how thick you want the sauce, you can either just heat through or let it simmer until thickened. Leave your chana saag chunky, or, if preferred, use an immersion blender to purée some of the mixture. Once it’s heated through, adjust the salt to your liking.

finished chana saag in the skillet
Whatever texture you choose, it’s freaking delicious.

Two bowls of chana saag with rice next to a torn pieces of naan

Serve over rice or with a piece of naan for dipping!

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  1. Great! We added a little more salt but we really like salt here hah. But toddler approved again!

  2. This was a good recipe, but I’d recommend kicking the spices up a bit. I started out with sautéing about a tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of mustard seeds and coriander seeds (could add more depending on personal taste). Then, go with the rest of the recipe, and at the end, put in about 1/8th teaspoon ground cloves. I made this once without those additions and while it was overall good, I did find it a bit bland. Adding mustard/coriander/cloves made a huge difference. 

  3. I have to add my voice to those finding this bland. I’m not sure why. I’ve made this twice, and it’s been bland each time. The second time I tried cranking up the spices a lot, but didn’t seem to help. Maybe my spaces are weak? 

    1. Hi Eric! I know you’re a veteran around here, so hopefully I’m not telling you something you already thought of! I do think maybe your spices being weak could be part of it, but also maybe it just needed a bit more salt to help those flavors pop? Between the fresh garlic, ginger, curry powder, and cumin, there should be a ton of flavor unless, of course, it isn’t salted well.

  4. very good!!! and genuinely SO FAST!! you’re a blessing :) i’m indian so i took the liberty of freestyling the spices. But its so versatile and can handle a variety of spice combinations

  5. Reading the other comments before making this dish was very helpful! I found the curry to be on the lighter, more refreshing side in terms of flavour, but it was delicious nonetheless. I served this curry with garlic chapati and white rice, yum!

    These were my alterations:
    • I am very sensitive to spice so I used 2 tsp mild curry powder instead of 1 tbsp.
    • I added 10 curry leaves in at the spices stage and 1/2 tsp dried green mango powder at the end of cooking.
    • I omitted the water and used 400ml can of coconut milk instead.
    • After turning the stove off I added a generous squeeze of lemon juice which helped to tie all the flavours together.

  6. Another excellent and easy recipe that tastes so good! This one is also gluten friendly and dairy free which is perfect for my diet. 

  7. So delicious, cheap and easy! I used my immersion blender on part of it so it’s like a half soup half stew. Very comforting.

  8. Easy, quick, healthy, and delicious! Definitely a keeper that I’ll make over and over. Thank you! 

  9. A recipe like this always inspire. All the steps are very helpful and mind blowing pictures. Looking forward for more such delicious recipes in future too.

  10. A wonderful recipe – it’s creamy, dreamy, spicy perfection and after trying it once, I’ll definitely make it again. It’s perfect for a weeknight when you’re too tired for anything more elaborate, but you also get a warm, cozy and comforting dish in no time.

  11. Thanks for sharing this, looks good, I would prefer to add more spices (as I like them a bit more)