Savor the Flavor of Chana Saag, A One Pot Wonder! 😋
Chana Saag, also known as Chana Palak, is a popular Northern Indian dish made with chickpeas (chana) and spinach or other leafy greens (palak or saag).
Have you had Palak Paneer or Chana Masala? This is kind of a mash-up between the two popular dishes!
The combination of the tender chickpeas and the flavorful spinach cooked in a spicy tomato-based gravy makes palak chana a perfect comfort food for any occasion.
It can be made either with a spinach puree (I personally love it this way) or you can just add spinach leaves and skip the puree part.
Chana Saag can be cooked on a stovetop or in an Instant Pot, making it a versatile dish.
I love using canned chickpeas to make this a super easy meal and after it making it so many times, I have tips on how to prep.
This Indian style chickpea dish is
Hearty and simple | No fancy ingredients needed! Plus get your family to eat the goodness of spinach and chickpeas – win-win!
Quick to prepare | Ready in 20 minutes with my tips on prep
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free | Make sure the asafoetida you use is gluten-free
Don’t worry – the ingredients aren’t complicated!
Below are ingredient notes. Complete ingredients and directions are in the printable recipe card at the end of the post.
Chickpeas: There is no chana saag without chickpeas! I used canned chickpeas to make this a quick weeknight dinner on the stovetop.
Instant Pot: If you use dry kabuli chana (also known as white chickpeas or garbanzo beans) then wash and soak chickpeas in 3 cups of water overnight or at least for 4+ hours.
Leafy greens: I love using baby spinach leaves. Saag means green leafy vegetables. Feel free to add mustard leaves, fenugreek leaves, or other leafy greens in combination with fresh spinach leaves.
Tomatoes: Roma tomatoes or any medium-sized tomato works. Tomatoes add a tang to the dish.
If your tomatoes don’t add enough tang for balance, add a teaspoon of lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of mango powder when you taste your dish at the end. Lemon juice is an excellent mango powder alternative.
Ginger, onion, and garlic: I keep frozen ginger on hand. If you don’t you can use fresh ginger root.
You can also use garlic or ginger paste if that’s what you have on hand. Essentials for most Indian dinner recipes.
Spices: Whole cumin seeds and hing (asafoetida) are used for the tadka. Salt, sugar, red chili powder, cumin coriander powder, and garam masala powder round out the flavor profile with balance.
Quick Summary Of Process
This chole palak recipe meal comes together quickly!
Prepare a spinach puree, onion/garlic/ginger puree, and chop tomatoes. If you can also just add in the spinach leaves without pureeing them. I think this just tastes so much better and looks more appealing this way.
Cook onion/garlic/ginger puree and tomatoes in a little oil infused with cumin seeds and asafoetida.
Add spices, chickpeas, and spinach puree. Finish off with a sprinkle of garam masala.
Having the three steps below complete ahead of time makes this dish easier to make.
Place water to boil in a pot (for the spinach). While it heats up, chop the tomatoes.
1.Spinach Puree: Add spinach to a pot of boiling water to blanch for two minutes. Make sure there is enough water to cover the spinach.
Remove spinach with a slotted spoon and place it in a pot of cold water and ice. Remove from the ice bath and blend into a smooth puree once cooled.
2. Onion, garlic, ginger puree: While the spinach cools, place garlic cloves, ginger, and onion into a blender and blend into a paste. Add 1-2 tablespoon water if needed to help blend into a smooth paste. Set aside.
Note, I already had chopped onions and frozen ginger so that is what you see pictured. If I didn’t I would not chop it, just place half a medium onion and 1-inch ginger root into the blender.
3. Tomatoes: Chop tomatoes.
You can optionally add tomatoes to the blender with onion, garlic, and ginger but note that the color of the dish may change because of the tomato puree.
Make Chana Saag Stovetop
1.Add oil to a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add cumin seeds. Let sizzle for 15-20 seconds and add asafoetida.
2.Gently pour in ginger, garlic, and onion puree into the pan. Pour away from you so there isn’t a hot splash back on you. Mix and cook for about 2 minutes.
3.Add chopped tomatoes followed by salt, cumin coriander powder, and red chili to the pan. Mix and cook for 2-3 minutes.
4.Next, chickpeas and sugar go into the pan. Give it a good mix.
Last, pour in the spinach puree. Mix and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Finish it off with garam masala and give it one last mix. Enjoy with rice, roti, or naan!
To save on cook time, you can also skip blanching the spinach. Chop and add the spinach to the curry instead along with chickpeas. This will not give the curry a green hue but will not impact the taste.
Making it in an Instant Pot
Wash and soak chickpeas in 3 cups of water overnight or at least for 5+ hours.
Turn on the Instant Pot in Saute mode.
Heat oil, add cumin seeds, and let splutter/sizzle. Add asafoetida.
Then add ginger, garlic, and onion puree into the pan. Mix and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Then add chopped tomatoes. Fry for 30 seconds.
Add the spices. Mix and cook for 30 seconds.
Next, add the soaked and rinsed chickpeas (not cooked) followed by water and mix.
Turn off the Saute mode. Close the pot with the lid, and ensure the valve is in the sealing position.
Switch on the manual/pressure cook mode and cook for 35 minutes for soaked chickpeas.
Release the pressure naturally once done. Open the lid, and add the spinach puree. Cook this in Saute mode for 2 minutes.
Finish it off with a sprinkle and mix of garam masala.
This chana palak recipe is flexible and can be served alongside a number of dishes.
Jeera rice is definitely my favorite to pair this with. Another idea is I use my tips on getting perfect basmati rice to make this non-sticky coconut rice! Like Mint (Pudina) Basmati Rice, it is easy to make.
Brown basmati rice is cooked a little differently. If you are in a pinch, use a basmati substitute such as Sona Masoori Rice!
Roti, jowar roti (sorghum), bhakri, naan – all can be served up with this chana palak!
Other palak recipes that may interest you include Spinach Soup, Spinach Pakora, Spinach Dal, and Indian Spinach Potato.
This can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. Note, the spinach puree may change color and get a bit darker.
Have you tried this easy chana saag recipe? If so, I would greatly appreciate it if you could leave a comment and rate it with stars. It would mean a lot to me to hear how it turned out. If you’re on Instagram, please tag me so I can see your creation. Thank you for your support!
20 Minute Chana Saag (Chana Palak) Stovetop + Instant Pot
- 1 Pot or InstantPot
- 1 Blender
- 1 knife
- 1 cutting board
- 1 can chick peas 15oz, 425 grams
- 4 cups baby spinach leaves packed cups, 160g
- 2 medium tomatoes I used roma tomatoes
- 1 inch ginger finely chopped, 9 grams
- ½ onion 55g, about ½ cup chopped
- 2 cloves garlic 9g
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp asafoetida
- 1 tbsp cumin coriander powder
- ½ tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp garam masala
- Spinach Puree: Add spinach to a pot of boiling water to blanch for two minutes. Remove spinach with a slotted spoon and blend into a puree once cooled.
- Onion, garlic, ginger puree: Meanwhile place garlic cloves, ginger, and onion into a blender and blend into a paste. Add 1-2 tablespoon water if needed to help blend. Set aside.
- Chop tomatoes: Chop tomatoes.
Make Chana Saag
- Add oil to a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add cumin seeds. Let sizzle 15-20 seconds and add asafoetida.
- Gently pour in ginger, garlic, onion puree into the pan. Pour away from you so there isn't a hot splash back on you. Mix and cook about 2 minutes.
- Add tomatoes followed by salt, cumin coriander powder, and red chili to the pan. Mix and cook 2-3 minutes.
- Next, chickpeas and sugar go into the pan. Give it a good mix.
- Last, pour in the spinach puree. Mix and let cook 2-3 minutes. Finish it off with garam masala and give it one last mix. Enjoy with rice, roti, or naan!