Secrets to Super Simple Meals 


North Indian Style Spinach Chicken

2 Mins read

I love Indian food, but sometimes those curries can be heavy. This dish, on the other hand, is more brothy than saucy, and still has that flavor I love. It has tomatoes, spinach and chicken breast, but it would be good with garbanzo beans instead, if you wanted to make it vegetarian.

I saw this in Sunset Magazine, which has been full of good recipes lately (See: Ginger Pear Crisp). My mom and I loved how light it felt while still filling us up.

Of course we changed it up a bit. Instead of serving with plain yogurt on top and cucumber salad on the side, I combined the two in a raita. I liked the cool crunch of cucumbers mixed in with the cooked vegetables. It’s all about layering flavors, textures and temperatures.

North Indian Style Spinach Chicken
Adapted from Sunset Magazine

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds (or pre-ground)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (or pre-ground)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, quartered (we didn’t have mushrooms so we left them out)
  • 2-in. piece fresh ginger
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 pounds boned, skinned chicken thighs, cut into 1-in. chunks (or use garbanzo beans for a vegetarian meal)
  • 1 cup diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 pound baby spinach
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • basmati rice for serving

In a small saute pan (or the large stock pot you’ll be using next) toast fenugreek, cumin and coriander seeds over medium heat, swirling around so they don’t burn. After a minute or two, when the seeds start to pop or become fragrant, transfer to a mortar or spice grinder. Grind spices, then stir in turmeric, and cayenne.

In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, spice mixture, and some salt. As onion start to sweat, add mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, mince ginger and garlic.

Add ginger and garlic. Sizzle a few seconds. Add chicken and a little more salt, at your discretion. Cook, stirring often, 3 minutes, or until no longer pink on the outside. Add tomatoes and simmer, covered, about 8 minutes.

Stir in spinach and simmer, covered, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, chop half a bunch or a large handful of cilantro. Stir into pot, along with lemon juice.

Serve with cooked rice and cucumber raita.

Cucumber Raita

I’ve made this raita before with grated cucumbers, but here I wanted them in larger pieces for crunch.

  • 1 large English cucumber (Peel if using a big waxy one. Seeding is a good idea too, but not necessary, especially if you eat it right away)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • juice from half a lemon
  • salt and white pepper to taste

Cut cucumber in chunks. Add to a bowl along with all other ingredients. Keep chilled, then serve on top or to the side of Indian dishes, like the chicken one above.

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