Chana Saag

Mallika Basu - Chana Saag

Posted 27th November 2014

Frozen fever has well and truly hit our household. How else to indulge a princess in practice than a Singalong version of the film, staged in London’s most spectacular venues?

Preparations began the minute the invite came through the door via a friend. Daughter of a former soap star, turned yummy mummy no less. The stakes were high. I imported a vision in sky blue polyester from China. While Mini Basu started practising fist pumps timed to dramatic perfection. Conceal. Don’t feel. Let it go.

I escaped work early to escort the princess to the ball. The man fittingly put a new Bentley delivered for his latest photoshoot to driving us to the Royal Albert Hall. And we arrived to a sea of excitable, mini Princess Elsas and hassled mums, herding their charges about.

I hope they sell wine, I blurted as said mums turned sharply. Half disapprovingly and half wondering how I’d read their mind. A jug of Viognier and bag of popcorn duly acquired, we stepped into the vast labrynth. No sooner than we had sat down, that adult size Princess Elsa and Anna lookalikes waltzed throught the crowds to a live rendition of the theme song. As if that wasn’t enough, the heavens burst to shower glittery snowflakes on the 1000-strong audience.

I took another sip of said wine and gently lifted Mini Basu’s jaw off the floor. Princess no 2 beside her couldn’t be distracted by a a herd of raging reindeers as she repeated every spoken and sung word from memory.

And as I sat through the campest thing I have done in my life to date, I pondered on the meaning of it all. Disney’s word on Girl power (after several misses). Or the importance of will power?

In my case, it’s the latter. Let it go basically summarises the approach to my diet, lifestyle and cash flow in the run up to Christmas. More luscious cocktails out, more stodgy comfort food in and far more indulgence than can be justified on the wallet.

So, in preparation for the madness to ensue I am enjoying quiet nights in, with budget meals like this Chana Saag recipe, chickpeas in a spinach and tomato masala, spiked with mango powder. I first tried it at a dinner at home for colleagues and then Diwali. It’s pretty much become a weekday staple in our home now, for big and little kids.

Letting go feels all the more timely for it.

Feeds 2:

400g tin of chickpeas

250gm fresh spinach/5 cubes of frozen spinach

1 medium tomato

1 small onion

Half tsp turmeric

1 tsp chilli

1 tsp grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

Half tsp garam masala

Half tsp mango powder (amchoor)

2 tbsp oil

Salt to taste

Peel and finely chop the onion. In a medium sized pot, bring the oil to heat on high and when it’s sizzling hot, toss in the chopped onions. Saute the onions for ten minutes with a pinch of salt.

When the onion starts turning a pale golden, add the ginger and garlic, and saute for another five minutes until the onions turn a darker shade of golden.

Now add the turmeric, chilli and cumin powders and stir for a minute. If the mixture starts getting stuck to the bottom of the pot, add a tablespoon of warm water and scrape it off.

Next, chop the tomato roughly and chuck it into the masala, stirring for a couple of minutes until it disintegrates. When it does, add half a cup of warm water. lower the heat to medium and let the spices infuse the tomato. If you’re using frozen spinach, now is the time to cook it according to pack instructions.

In about five minutes, when you see oil oozing through the surface of the masala, roughly chop the spinach (I usually just take a pair of scirros to the bowl contents) and stir into the masala. Now, rinse and drain the chickpeas and mix them in.

Let the chickpeas cook with the spices for another five minutes. To finish, add salt to taste, sprinkle garam masala and amchoor powder all over and serve hot. This Chana Saag is great with toasted pitta bread, but also served with rotis.

15 responses to “Chana Saag”

  1. Fun story, and the recipe sounds perfectly yummy – and in its simplicity, perfect for this season of excess descending upon us. I will give it a try. I have some dried chickpeas I’ve been meaning to cook up, lots of bags of homegrown greens in the freezer, a few fresh tomatoes still left from this year’s crop, and – you’ve reminded me – I even have some dried mango slices in the pantry that will become amchoor thanks to the handy-dandy coffee grinder! So I can happily celebrate Buy Nothing Day, and eat well at the same time. 🙂

  2. pragati says:

    Hello Mallika,

    Love the photo! Looks pristine and then there is that splash of spinach and the chana.
    I make two versions of this – the rustic one and sometimes I use pureed spinach.

    Will try adding amchur next time like you have done here.

  3. Corinne says:

    Mallika, this sounds so good! Just to clarify, how much onion do you use in this recipe? Onion is mentioned in the recipe instructions, but not the ingredients list. Thanks for the recipe! I just want to be sure I make it right… =)
    – Corinne

  4. Corinne says:

    I thought I had posted a positive review on this recipe shortly after I tried it, but it must not have gone through. In any case, this chana saag is really good! My whole family liked it. I have some chickpeas on hand so I am thinking of making it again soon. Thank you Mallika for getting back to me on how much onion to use and for sharing this recipe. =) I think it is tasty with brown basmati rice on the side, but I’ll have to try it with some flatbread sometime, like you recommended.

  5. Mallika says:

    Hi Corinne, that’s great! Thanks so much for letting me know. I’ve just updated this site so there are a few tech glitches. Really lovely of you to persevere and make sure the comment gets to me! Definitely have a go with a bread of some sort (I’ve even done tucked in a bread roll…)

  6. Shireen Hussain-Roy says:

    Hero recipe! Went down a treat with my dinner guests and my daughter actually ate spinach. Result.

  7. Lee says:

    No coriander powder? I quite enjoy coriander with this

  8. Mallika says:

    Hi Lee, no real need. But go right on if you fancy it! M x

  9. Corinne says:

    I wanted to email this recipe to a friend, but the ingredients list has disappeared… Also, this post is not showing up on the website at all unless I search for it in the search bar. What happened?
    A lot of your dal recipes seem to be missing altogether, too, at least under category lists. I also thought you had at least one recipe for black chickpeas, but it’s not showing up.
    This chana saag recipe is so good – it should be showcased, not removed!

    Hey Corinne, I am making some tech updates to the blog and things are going haywire! Thanks for your comment. Now all fixed M x

  10. Archana says:

    I made this dish a few times and it comes out perfect every time! Thank you for the simple but SO delicious recipe.

    Thanks so much for swinging by to let me know Archana M x

  11. […] different but easy. I quickly browsed through some of my favorite blogs and decided to make Malika Basu’s recipe for chana saag that looked delicious yet […]

  12. […] In addition to the restaurant-like Chana Masala, this chana saag dish is a staple for weeknight meals and also a good make-ahead dish for pot lucks and dinner parties. Cooked in no time and Chana Saag is packed with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Here is a link to my original stovetop Chana Saag adapted from a favorite blog! […]

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