Saag literally translates to greens so even though spinach has become a popular choice, feel free to mix in other greens like mustard greens or chard. While some may expect a very saucy rich dish, traditionally, this recipe has very little or even no cream. This version veers from tradition to include some of the chickpea liquid to add viscosity and a silky texture without more dairy.
Cook the rice as the label directs. Set aside off the heat, about 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
Finely chop the ginger, garlic and chile in a mini food processor; set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds; cook until sizzling, 30 seconds. Add the onion; cook, stirring, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the pot is dry, 3 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon garam masala.
Stir the chickpeas and chopped chile mixture into the pot. Add the spinach in batches, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of the reserved chickpea liquid if the pot is getting too dark. Season generously with salt and pepper and stir in 1/4 cup chickpea liquid. Partially cover and cook, stirring, until the spinach is soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream; remove from the heat.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1/2 teaspoon garam masala. Cook until the seeds pop, a few seconds. Stir into the spinach; season with salt and pepper. Serve the chana saag with the rice, naan, yogurt and/or lemon wedges.
Saag is usually made with spinach but you can use other greens in this Indian dish. Try mustard greens or chard!
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Photograph by Andrew Purcell
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