chana saag [or at least really close]

Luckily, these were not the photos I deleted off my camera the other night.  This is not a meal you want to reheat and photograph on the second day. 

Although, it is a meal you want to reheat and eat on the second day.  I’m definitely a leftovers fan.  You know this. 

If you’ve been around here for awhile, you may remember my attempt at dal saag last year.  I actually named it not dal saag because it was not dal saag.  I don’t expect you to remember that, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since!

In the past three weeks I’ve made this meal three times, three different ways.

First in the slower cooker.  Second on the stovetop in a huge pot—not a fan.  Third was back in the slow cooker.

Yes.  That is a lot of spinach.  Yes.  We’ve eaten it all.  I believe I ate the second trial all by myself.

The slow cooker is definitely where it’s at—in my opinion—for this type of recipe.  The 8 hours of cooking really let the flavors develop.

I wouldn’t say this is authentic.  Heck, I’m not even sure I’ve ever really tasted authentic Indian food!  All I have to compare it to are my favorite Indian restaurants. 

While not authentic, it’s as close as it’s going to get to what I think chana saag is supposed to taste like. 

Print this!

Chana Saag [or at least really close]

serves 4-6 // adapted from The Vegan Slow Cooker, Chana Saag and 101 Cookbooks, Saag Paneer

Check my notes for easy vegan substitutions.

  • 1lb baby spinach, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained + rinsed
  • 1 cup low/no-sodium veggie broth
  • 1/4 cup 2% or whole milk
  • 1/4 cup half + half creamer
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cumin
  • 3/4 – 1 1/4 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 – 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/16 teaspoon clove
  • cayenne pepper to taste [opt]
  • paneer cheese or fresh mozzarella [opt]
  • cooked brown rice or quinoa
  1. Chop your spinach.  Seems silly but it’s important for the cooking down process of the spinach.
  2. Heat a pan over medium and add the ghee.
  3. Once hot, add the chopped onion and stir every minute or so for about 5-7 minutes until the onion is translucent and soft.
  4. Stir in the garlic, cumin, 3/4t garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon salt, mustard seeds, coriander, turmeric, and clove for about 30 seconds - 1 minute until fragrant.
  5. Remove from heat, stir in the ginger, and pour into your slow cooker.
  6. Add the veggie stock and then the chopped spinach on top.
  7. Cover and set to low for 8 hours. [or 4 hours on high – tried it!]
  8. Remove the lid, stir, and taste.  Add more salt, garam masala, and cayenne pepper if desired.  If it tastes bitter it needs more salt.  I used 1 1/4t garam masala in total.
  9. Stir in the milk and creamer, then lightly blend with your immersion blender [optional].
  10. Add the chickpeas, leave the lid ajar, and let cook for 30 more minutes on high.
  11. Stir, taste, adjust seasonings if needed, and serve.  Top with paneer cheese or fresh mozzarella if desired.  It will thicken more upon serving.

notes:  If desired, instead of ghee use 2 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons sunflower/safflower oil to make vegan.  For vegan version, sub unsweetened/unflavored soy milk for the 2% and unflavored soy creamer for the half + half.  I used no-sodium veggie broth and needed to add just over 1 teaspoon of salt. 

And that’s a wrap on my as close as it’s going to get chana saag trials.