What is Aloo Palak?
Aloo Palak (aloo meaning potato and palak meaning spinach) is a slow-cooked Pakistani curry. Despite its humble ingredients, this spinach and potato curry is creamy and packed with flavor. How can something so simple like potato and spinach be so flavorful, you may ask? The answer lies in using only the freshest ingredients and slow-cooking them is spices, garlic, and ginger.
As much as you are tempted to make your life easier and use frozen spinach for this aloo palak, I must insist that you leave that frozen spinach in the freezer. Use fresh whole spinach leaves. If you want to make it easier, just take some pre-washed baby spinach and blitz it quickly in the food processor.
How my love of curry began
Years ago I decided to expand my culinary horizons by attending a Pakistani cooking class and this curry, Aloo Palak or Pakistani spinach and potato curry, was one of the first things I made. At that time, I knew nothing about Indian and Pakistani cuisine. I wasn’t even a big fan of it back then. However, if an opportunity arises to expand your horizons, take it. Never turn down the chance to learn and try new things.
The instructor of my course was a local Beijing restauranteur named Samia whose Pakistani eatery menu was based on traditional recipes used by herself and her family for generations. Unlike other cooking classes that I have taken, this really challenged my skill and taste level. She taught us how to layer flavors with aromatics and take the time to do things properly. Sometimes in my dreams, I can still hear yelling at me in the kitchen to not smash the garlic and how to hold that heavy Chinese clever properly.
The magic of Aloo Palak
This recipe for Aloo Palak (Pakistani Spinach curry with potatoes) was one of the first things she ever taught me. Fresh spinach is washed and painstakingly chopped by hand then simmered for hours in oil, spices, and water before potatoes are added to fry in the mix. The result was an Aloo Palak that was so tender and creamy that it was hard to believe this magic we cooked up was plain old potato and spinach.
Adapting my Aloo Palak recipe
Over the years I’ve been cooking up this Aloo Palak recipe for my family and making changes along the way. Instead of using 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, I only use 1/4. Since dried fenugreek seeds have a tendency to turn bitter, I’ve cut down the amount from 3 tbsp to 1 humble little teaspoon. I also threw in some cumin for added spice and substituted plain full-fat yogurt instead of milk to give it a little tangy kick. The end result is a divine creamy spinach curry with hearty chunks of potato all lightly flavored with just the right amount of spice.
I hope Samia would approve of my Aloo Palak.
Aloo Palak is creamy Pakistani spinach and potato curry slow-cooked with spices. Serve with basmati rice for a satisfying vegetarian meal. #spinach #potato #vegetarian #Pakistani #curry
- 2 large bunches of fresh spinach (~1 kg/ 2 lb)
- 1 head of garlic
- 2 inches / 4.5 cm ginger (peeled and roughly chopped)
- 1 large onion (diced)
- 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried fenugreek seeds
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- a dusting of garam masala (optional)
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 cups / 480 ml water
- 1 large potato (peeled and chopped into pieces no larger than 1 inch / 2 cm)
- 1/4 cup (2 oz or 60 ml) of vegetable oil
- 2 green finger chiles (chopped)
- 1 heaping tablespoon of plain unsweetened yogurt
- Cut the roots off the fresh spinach then wash and dry as best as you can.
- Cut the stalks of the spinach leaves as thin as you can (almost like you are mincing them) then cut the spinach leaves a little bigger (no larger than 1 cm / 0.5 inch thick). If you want to make things easier, you can just use baby spinach. That way, you won’t have to cut the stalks. Place chopped spinach in a large bowl and set aside.
- Remove garlic cloves from shells and cut away the fibrous base. Place in a food processor with peeled and chopped ginger and blitz to form a ginger garlic paste. If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the ginger and mince the garlic. It works just as well.
- In a large pot, heat oil over medium to medium-high heat. When the oil is hot (after a minute or so), add diced onions and saute until translucent.
- When onions are soft and translucent, add ginger garlic paste and stir. Cook until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes) and be careful not to let it burn.
- Next add fenugreek, ground cumin, turmeric, and sea salt. Stir together and let cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add chopped spinach and mixture into the onion mixture. Let cook for 1-2 minutes until wilted.
- Add 2 cups of water and increase heat to high. Let boil for a minute or so, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, increase heat to high and cook off any excess moisture. Make sure you remain vigilant when doing this and stir it every so often to prevent it from sticking to the bottom and burning.
- After most of the water has been cooked off and the oil has come to the surface, add 1 heaping tablespoon of plain unsweetened yogurt and stir into the curry until thoroughly incorporated.
- Then add potatoes and chopped chiles. Stir them into the spinach curry then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through then turn off the heat and serve. Before serving, you can dust the top of the Aloo Palak with a light sprinkling of garam masala to give it a little kick.
- Pair this tasty aloo palak with buttery naan or fluffy basmati rice for maximum feasting.
Again, Aloo Palak is only as good as the effort that you put into it. So try to use fresh spinach and leave that frozen spinach in the freezer. Again, if you want to make it easier, just take some pre-washed baby spinach and blitz it quickly in the food processor.
- Category: Vegetarian, Curry
- Method: Slow cooking
- Cuisine: Indian/Pakistani
Keywords: spinach, potato, curry, vegetarian, Pakistani, Indian, fenugreek, cumin, aloo palak, potato curry, spinach and potato curry
If you like this Aloo Palak recipe and are looking for more tasty curry recipes, give these dishes a try:
Chana Masala (Vegetarian Indian Chickpea Curry)
Chili Paneer with Sweet and Sour Garlic Sauce
Slow-Cooked Railway Lamb Curry
Luscious Slow Cooked Lamb Flank Curry
Andy’s Restaurant Style Spicy Chicken Balti