Channa Saag is a classic northern Indian curry made with channa (chickpeas) and saag (greens). Have you ever had green leafy vegetables wilting away in your fridge and you can’t decide what to use them in? This is the perfect dish to use up all of them. Of course nothing beats fresh leafy greens but use what you have on hand. The greens used in channa saag is usually a combination of different ones like spinach and mustard greens. However it can be made with just one type of green leafy vegetable alone and it will still taste great.
This dish is also vegan and a fantastic source of nutrients. This is due to the powerhouse combination of channa and greens. When you add wonderful spices to that equation, you really couldn’t ask for a more satisfying meal.
Making channa saag
There are a couple of variations you can try while making this dish. You can adjust accordingly for time and ingredients. Traditionally saag is made with mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach and other greens including bathua (lamb’s quarters). These are winter greens. In my version here, I have used spinach and methi (fresh fenugreek) because that’s what I had on hand. Feel free to use any of these or even chard, kale, collards, beet greens etc.
Another variation to the dish is whether you want to simply mix in the greens or make a puree of it. For a weeknight dinner when I don’t have much time, I prefer simply mixing in chopped greens. If you have a bit of time, you can blanch the greens in boiling water for a couple of minutes. I bet you can also steam them and simply puree in the blender.
I love cooking chickpeas from scratch. There are times when I used tinned chickpeas. However I like the texture of home cooked chcikepas so much better. I also prefer being able to control what goods in to it. Not to mention, you get a better bang for you buck buying bulk dry chickpeas and cooking it.
You might also have heard of channa saag’s famous cousin saag paneer or palak paneer. If you are not avoiding dairy, try making the same dish with paneer which is a non-melting cheese or even halloumi. Also try with potatoes, tofu (Palak Tofu)or soy chunks for other vegan versions.
I love saag with roti or naan. I also serve it some butter milk (or vegan buttermilk), lassi (salted or sweet yoghurt drink) to help balance the heat from the spices. Saag traditionally is served with makki ki roti (cornmeal flatbread). So do give it a try with it if you can.
If you do give it a try, don’t forget to leave a comment or question below with a rating! It really helps me understand what recipes you are loving. Also please tag #dillandthyme on Instagram or @dillandthymeblog on Pinterest!
- 3-4 cup channa (chickpeas) cooked
- 5 cup spinach(or any greens) chopped
- 3 medium tomatoes diced
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 inch ginger grated
- 4 green chiles finely chopped (adjust according to taste)
- 1 tsp jeera(cumin seeds)
- 1 tsp saunf(fennel seeds)
- 1 tbsp ground jeera(cumin)
- 1 tbsp ground dhaniya(coriander seeds)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tsp aamchur(ground green mango) use lime juice in lieu of aamchur
- 2 cup water for cooking
- 2 tbsp cooking oil or ghee
- salt to taste
- Heat oil in a dutch oven or similar sized pan. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and let it sit until you can see the seeds splatter in the oil a little.
- Add the onions, garlic and ginger. Saute well for a few minutes until lightly browned.
- Add turmeric, green chiles and let it cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, cumin, coriander powder. Season with some salt and mix well.
- Mix in the cooked chickpeas, garam masala and let it all cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the water. Depending on the consistency you want, smash in a few chickpeas to thicken up the liquid.
- Finally add in the chopped greens and aamchur powder. Cook for a few more minutes and season with more salt if required. Serve with roti, naan or makki ki roti (cornmeal flatbread)
- Feel free to use any greens you have on hand if you don’t have access to mustard greens or spinach.
- Another way to incorporate the greens is to blanch them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Puree the blanched greens and add while cooking.
- Chickpeas can be replaced with paneer, tofu or even potatoes. They will taste equally great in the saag.
- Serve with chopped chiles, raw onion, cucumber slices and a piece of lime.