Few housekeeping notes before we get started with this recipe to avoid the hate and backside comments. This recipe is inspired by Saag Chicken we get at a local Indian restaurant. This is NOT (even though the ingredients are very similar) genuine Indian Saag Chicken, it’s my take on Saag Chicken if we were to do it in the Caribbean. The technique you’ll see me use, is called Curry-Stew!
3.5 – 4 lbs chicken thighs
1 1/2 tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
1 medium onion (diced)
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 shallot (diced)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2-3 cloves garlic (crushed)
3/4 tablespoon salt (adjust)
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon golden brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 heaping tablespoon curry powder
2 lbs spinach (baby)
1 scotch bonnet pepper
1 seasoning pepper (optional)
1 1/2 cups water
8 cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
Important! If doing this recipe gluten free, please go through the full list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary requirements. Especially the curry powder you use, as some may have flour as a filler. It’s also important that you wear gloves and wash your hands with soap and water after handling such hot peppers as Scotch Bonnet.
In a large bowl, place the chicken pieces (I used large chicken thighs which I cut in half – along the bone) and season with the salt, black pepper, Caribbean Green Seasoning, ketchup (trust me), scotch bonnet pepper (as much as you can handle), curry powder, onion, shallot, grated ginger, garlic and seasoning pepper (aka pimento pepper). Note the ginger will give it a spicy note so be mindful of that when adding the Scotch Bonnet (btw Habanero is a tasty replacement if you can’t source Scotch Bonnet).
Mix well and allow to marinate for a couple hours.
Heat a big heavy pot on high heat and add the oil. Followed by the brown sugar (you may want to watch the video below to follow along) and stir. This step is called “stewing” in the Caribbean. The sugar will melt, go frothy, then deep amber in color (NOT BLACK). At this point add the seasoned chicken to the pot and stir well to coat. Should you miss and it goes black, STOP. Allow the pot to cool, wash, dry and start over or you will have bitter tasting chicken. Yes, it will go smoky so turn the fan on over your stove or open a window.
Be gentle when adding the seaoned chicken to the pot as the melted sugar can burn you something bad.
Turn the heat to medium, place the lid on and allow it to go to a boil. In doing so the chicken will release it’s own juices. 6 minutes later, remove the lid and crank up the heat.. we want to burn off that liquid and get the chicken pieces darker and intensify the overall flavor.
After about 5 minutes on high, you should start seeing the oil we started with (be sure to stir so the chicken don’t burn). Add the water to the pot and bring to a boil – to cook off the raw chicken. For max flavor, swish the water in the same bowl you marinated the chicken in before adding it to the pot, so we get all remnants of that seasoning.
Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the spinach (washed/drained) and allow it to go on that gentle rolling boil. It will seem like a lot of spinach, but it wilt down. Be sure to tuck it in between the pieces of chicken.
For more flavor.. instead of 1 1/2 cups of water, add 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup coconut milk.
25 minutes later, taste for salt and adjust accordingly, determine how you want the gravy (cook longer if you want it thicker) and finally, toss in the tomato. Turn off the stove!
I’ll continue to hit that Friday Special at Gates Of India (restaurant), but dare I say, my version (while not authentic and not done in disrespect) is a very tasty Caribbeanized version of this classic dish.
Serve with steamed rice or hot roti! Drop me your comments below, tag me on Instagram and don’t forget you can now get my cookbook – The Vibrant Caribbean Pot, 100 Traditional And Fusion Recipes @ CaribbeanPot.com/CookBook/