Chicken Palak

I have a few chicken and spinach curries on the site already so I hadn’t really planned on putting this one on too, but when It turned out so deliciously I just had to share. The canned pureed spinach gave the overall dish a beautiful glossy sheen quite unlike that of fresh spinach. It was a moderately spiced affair, but really fragrant – there’s plentiful sauce too which suits me perfectly – I could have ladled it into my greedy mouth. I practically did. Great stuff.

Curry Paste:

1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon white poppy seeds (black if you can’t get white)
4 cloves
5-8 dried red chillies (you decide)
3 black cardamom pods
4 green cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds

Other ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
3 onions (thinly sliced)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic (grated)
3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 medium tomatoes
1kg chicken thigh fillets (cut into chunks)
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 x 400g can spinach
1/2 cup fresh cream (optional)

To make the paste:
In a dry frying pan, gently toast all the whole spices for about 40 seconds until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from the pan to a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and grind into a fine powder. Combine with the turmeric powder and 1/2 cup water into a smooth paste and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pan over a moderate heat until just hot. Gently fry the onions for 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for one minute before adding the spice paste. Stir briefly to coat all the onion then add the tomatoes. Stir until the tomatoes turn to mush (you may need a little splash of water if they start to stick. Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes before adding 400ml water, half the salt and half the can of spinach. Stir until simmering then reduce the heat to very low and cook gently, partially covered for 40 minutes – stirring occasionally. Add the remaining spinach and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in the cream (if using) and bring to a simmer then remove from the heat. Season with more of the salt if needed and serve.

Serve with plenty of Indian breads or basmati rice.

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