Saag was the first Indian dish I fell in love with. Rich, velvety and subtly spiced – there’s nothing not to love. Oh, and my first saag had tons of chewy paneer cheese in it, of course. This meal-prep chana saag keeps all the feel-goods of the original but lightens it up with healthy fats, less salt, and chickpeas instead of dairy. Plus, it’s vegan and gluten-free!
Lots of Indian food lends itself to meal-prep. Cooking veggies down into luscious sauces then reheating them is practically the Indian buffet’s business model! I’m just following a tradition here, folks.
This recipe comes together quickly. Just whir the aromatics in a blender and sauté while you whir the thawed frozen spinach in a food processor. Add the spinach, coconut, spices, then a can of chickpeas. You don’t even have to simmer the final product that long.
All you have to do is microwave your portions of saag throughout the week with some prepped brown or cauliflower rice, and you’ve got lunch or dinner in less than 5 minutes. Or you could reheat the saag on the stovetop, adding water if it gets to thick, if you’re feeling fancy.
I’ve got to add a little Patak’s Mild Curry Paste to any Indian dish I make. I heart it.
Don’t skip the step of food-processing the spinach. It’s what broke down the barrier between me and homemade saag. The smooth spinach gives the dish a kind of fluffiness you normally only get at a restaurant.
Chana Saag just may be my favorite way to eat spinach. I hope you enjoy it too!
Chana SaagPrint Recipe
- 2 tsp. coconut oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 in. piece fresh ginger
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tomato, chopped, preferably organic
- 1 green serrano pepper, seeded if you prefer less heat
- scant 2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp. garam masala
- ½ tsp. coriander
- ½ tsp. turmeric
- 15 oz. bag frozen spinach, defrosted
- ½ cup full fat coconut milk
- 1 tsp. Patak’s Mild Curry Concentrate (optional but so good)
- 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ¼-½ tsp. salt, to taste
- ½ tsp. maple syrup
COOKING DAY – Heat oil in Dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat. Blend the onion, ginger, garlic, tomato and serrano pepper in blender until a paste is formed. Add onion paste to skillet, along with spices through turmeric. Sauté until raw onion smell is cooked out and the mixture is less liquid-y.
Meanwhile, drain the excess water from the defrosted spinach. Process spinach in food processor until as smooth as possible.
Add processed spinach to onion mixture. Swirl in the coconut milk, Patak’s (if using), and salt to taste. Add the chickpeas and simmer for 10 mins. Fish out the bay leaf. Remove from heat and add maple syrup. Taste for seasoning and spices, then allow to cool.
Package in containers. Keeps in refrigerator for 5 days or freezer for 3 months.
SERVING DAY – Reheat saag in microwave or stovetop, defrosting if necessary. Serve with brown or cauliflower rice.
Don’t be tempted to add extra fat to this recipe. I added grass-fed butter to a test batch to give it some richness, and it dulled the flavor.