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Jan 23, 2007 07:48 AM

Looking for a recipe for channa saag

I love ordering out for channa saag, but it's getting a little expensive. Does anyone have a good recipe? I've done some searching (online and in the bookstore), but every recipe I have found is wildly different from the next. TIA!

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  1. Channa saag is just saag with cooked (canned) chickpeas. If you can, track down a good saag recipe. It's not easy, though. I've tried countless saag recipes and have been unable to recreate a restaurant style end product. I've tried variations involving cream, no cream, canned spinach, fresh spinach, mustard greens, methi- both fresh and dried, a little/a lot of cumin, a little/a lot of coriander, coconut milk, green peppers, butter, ghee, vegetable oil and urad dal (as a filler) and none of them have come close to what I get at the restaurant.

    Out of this list... I think mustard greens and extra coriander show the most promise. Maybe. Even though saag is traditionally made with mustard greens, I think the cost of greens prompts a lot of spinach substitution. It could be a mixture, but I get the feeling most saag is all spinach- and probably canned at that.

    I also believe that a big part of restaurant saag, just like other restaurant dishes, is the gravy base they use. Again... there's a few gravy bases floating around, but none that I'm entirely happy with.

    Cookbooks are generally a waste of time for Punjabi/Mughlai Restaurant food. There are quite a few home cooks trying to unlock the secrets, but the progress has been slow. I think we're a few years away from truly viable restaurant style recipes.

    If you really want to match the channa saag that you like, I'd get that particular recipe. One option that you might want to consider is asking the owner of your restaurant to show you how to make saag. If he/she says no, offer them money. Another possibility is to stage some sort of cooking class with a few other people and see if the owner would open the doors of their kitchen for that.

    1 Reply
    1. re: scott123

      You've clearly done a lot of research on the topic. Do you have something more along the lines of a recipe, with ingredients and measurements and such, that I could try my hand at?

    2. Ingredients:
      1 10oz frozen spinach pack cut/chopped or whole doesnt matter
      1 can chick peas - ur preference on how much to add
      2 small onions chopped
      2-4 cloves of garlic minced- ur taste
      1-2 inch piece of ginger root cut/minced
      1-2 jalapenos minced - ur taste
      1/2 tsp turmeric
      1 tbsp coriander powder
      1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
      1/2 tsp red chilli powder
      1/2 tsp garam masala
      1/2-1 tsp chole/channa masala (Optional) Adds different taste, I wouold try recipe with and without.
      1tsp butter or margerine if desired
      salt to taste
      add black pepper if desired to taste

      1) Cook spinach or heat in microwave to warm.
      2) In wok or pan fry onions in oil til well cooked on med-med high heat.
      3) Add garlic, ginger and jalapeno and fry 2-5 minutes.
      4) Add all dry spices except channa masala powder, salt and pepper and stir 2 minutes.
      5) Now add the spinach and stir 2 minutes.
      6) Add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil.
      7) Add desired amount of salt, and the butter or margerine, stir and cover. Simmer 5-10 minutes.
      8) Turn off flame and cool a bit.
      9) Place spinach mixture into blender and blend to desired consistency.
      10) In same pan add bit of butter and place spinach mixture back into pan on med heat.
      11) Add chic peas, bring to a boil, add channa masala or chole masala (if desired) turn heat down and simmer 10 minutes.

      Can always add more water if too thick and just boil and then simmer to desired amount.
      Also, you can add more dry spices at the end if you think there is a flavor you are not getting.

      This is a recipe I have come up with some from reading and others just by what i think should be. I believe the key ingredients in north Indian palak/saag dishes are ginger, coriander, green chillies---the rest is by taste.