Rustic Palak Chicken
Rustic because I’ve finely chopped all the ingredients instead of blending them to a purée, which gives the recipe an old school rustic look and texture and flavour!
Also, because I’ve kept the flavours simple and minimalistic.
You could fine grind the ingredients, though I would really not suggest it for this recipe of Rustic Palak (spinach) Chicken. Give it a go in all its old school beauty and experience the difference in flavours.
Both variations of Palak Chicken have their own charm and flavours.
While Palak (spinach) is in season, my family makes the most of it… aloo palak, palak paneer (ofcourse), lasuni (garlicky) palak, palak pakodas, palak patta chaat (yummm), chopped palak leaves in a besan ka puda, palak chicken biryani, palak and veggie pulao, puréed palak chicken, palak mutton (the best! recipe coming up soon), vegetable Hyderabadi, palak shalgam (turnip), palak paratha… you get the drift… palak in everything!
So here’s a super basic Rustic Palak Chicken recipe which uses minimal everyday ingredients that are easily available in most kitchens.
Time taken: 30 minutes
Ingredients to make Rustic Palak Chicken
500 gms chicken
50-60 palak patta / spinach leaves, medium to large
3 tbsp ghee
2 onions, medium size
2 tomatoes, medium size
1 inch piece of ginger
8-10 cloves of garlic
4 green chillies
1 bay leaf / tej patta
1 inch stick of cinnamon / dalchini
4 cloves / laung
8 black peppercorns / kali mirch
1 tbsp coriander powder / dhaniya powder
1 tsp cumin powder / jeera powder
½ tsp turmeric powder / haldi
Salt to taste
Method of making Rustic Palak Chicken
I did mention we’re using everyday ingredients that are easily available. Not too many masalas, no garam masala even! You could ofcourse add it if you like. I like my recipe of Palak Chicken to have simple flavours that are not overpowered with excessive use of spices.
Additionally, the chosen spice powders are flavours that complement Palak (spinach) in any recipe.
The chicken in this recipe of Rustic Palak Chicken does not require marination. If you would like to, you could marinate it in salt and turmeric powder.
To prep: finely chop the onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and green chillies.
Wash the spinach leaves well and chop these to a medium cut, not too fine and not roughly chopped either. Leave the tender stems on, chop fine. Discard the tough spinach leaf stems as those will be fibrous.
Heat ghee or cooking oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and black peppercorns. Once these crackle, add the finely chopped onions. Lower the heat and cook the onions on low heat till they are a light brown.
Cooking onions on low heat brings out the natural sweetness of onions and gives you caramelised onions which result in a better final dish and an overall mellow flavour than quickly browned onions, which may taste burnt and lend an unpleasant flavour.
Next, we add the ginger, garlic and green chillies. Let these roast for a couple of minutes. Once the aromatics are cooked, we add the tomatoes.
Continue cooking the onion tomato masala on low heat for about 5 minutes by which time the tomatoes will start to break.
Now add the chicken pieces and increase the heat to medium. Mix everything well so that the onion tomato masala coats the chicken pieces completely.
Cover and cook the chicken for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the spice powders at this stage of cooking; turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt.
If you’re adding garam masala, add it now if you want a mellow flavour or towards the end of the cooking process if you want a slightly sharper flavour of the Indian spice mix.
I have not added red chilli powder to this recipe of Rustic Palak Chicken because that will change the colour of the final dish. If you would like more heat in the recipe, add more green chillies.
Give the chicken a good mix to coat it well with all the spice powders, cover and cook again for about 3-4 minutes which will allow the spices to cook as well.
Finally, we will add the chopped spinach leaves and mix well.
By this time our chicken should be almost cooked with about 3-4 minutes of cooking time left for chicken cooked to the bone.
If your chicken is not almost cooked at this point, then continue to cook it further and add the spinach leaves in a couple of minutes more. We need only 3-4 minutes of cooking time for our spinach leaves, so that they do not lose their fresh green colour.
I did not add any water to my recipe of Rustic Palak Chicken, however, at any point during the cooking process if you feel the need to add it, go ahead and add a couple of tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan. You may need to add water if your onion tomato masala starts to stick to the pan.
Once the chicken and spinach are completely cooked to your preference, our Rustic Palak Chicken is ready to serve!
This recipe of Rustic Palak Chicken goes well with naan, chapati, roomali roti or even jeera rice. Serve Rustic Palak Chicken with these sirke wale pyaz and you sure have a winner Indian meal on your table!
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