Aloo Palak (Potatoes and Spinach with Cilantro Paste)

September 6, 2010

Aloo Palak is a simple, vegetarian Indian dish from Punjab that combines creamy spinach in a cilantro paste with spiced potatoes and tomatoes for a perfect main or side dish.

I recently had Indian food twice in a weekend. I’ll be honest, it’s okay if that happens a lot. I heart it. The first time was dinner at Gandhi Mahal in Minneapolis with my girl, Holly. We feasted. She wrote about it. It was goooood.

After that I was lucky enough to help a friend celebrate her birthday with an Indian food backyard picnic. Red wine, Indian food, great music, and friends make for a pretty lovely evening, lemme tell ya.

All that goodness obviously had me with Indian food on the brain. It’s such a fun and easy cuisine to cook and I enjoy being able to control the spice levels (hot please!) and the amount of salt/garlic (nowhere close to what restaurants use!) added.

This dish is simple and delicious. Serve it with rice or naan bread, either alongside another dish, like chana masala, or let it be the main affair. It can totally stand alone and that’s how we had it.

Aloo Palak (potatoes and spinach with cilantro paste)


For the dhaniya paste (cilantro paste):

  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 green chili
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp water (if needed for blending)

For the Aloo Palak (potatoes and spinach)

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • two plum tomatoes, chopped (you can use others but plums have less water to release)
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 10 oz fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • salt, to taste


  1. Blend the green chili, garlic and cilantro, adding a little water if needed. The paste should resemble pesto.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds.
  3. Once the mustard seeds begin to crackle, add the turmeric powder.
  4. Add onions and salt and saute for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add chopped tomatoes to the onion mixture, followed by the cilantro paste. Season with salt to taste.
  6. Add red chili powder and coriander powder and combine.
  7. Cover with a lid and allow to cook for about 8 minutes, or until a paste consistency is formed.
  8. Add potatoes to pan and season with salt if necessary. Lower heat and cook potatoes for about 12 minutes until tender.
  9. Next, add chopped spinach to the mixture and raise the heat. Cook until the spinach wilts.
  10. Cover with the lid again and allow to cook for about 15 minutes. The spinach will release its water, cooking the potatoes. Make sure the potatoes are really cooked and pretty soft before turning off the heat.
  11. Add garam masala, combine, and turn off the heat immediately.

Serve with rice or naan bread and garnish with a dollop of plain yoghurt and some fresh cilantro sprigs.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

crunchy granola gal September 6, 2010 at 11:35 am

ohhh yum. good point about the spice and salt level. Indian is one of those cuisines that i refuse to eat out because i really can’t – the oily quality actually makes me a bit sick to my stomach. BUT cooked at home, recipes like these are gems – totally easy and so so pungent. never really thought to add the dollop of yogurt. good call!

happy labor day weekend :)


Madeline - Greens and Jeans September 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Heavens to Betsy. Aloo Palak is one of my very favorites! Plus, any recipe that gives me an excuse to eat naan is a-okay with me


Ellen @FirednFabulous September 6, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Ohh this sounds yummy. Beautiful pics!


Megan (The Runner's Kitchen) September 6, 2010 at 5:10 pm

My little sister is obsessed with Indian, but she can’t find it in rural Pennsylvania (surprise, surprise). I think I’m going to make her this dish when I visit next :)

p.s. after seeing Holly’s take on your nutella brownies..I think I am going to make them. Like, right now.

Happy labor day and thanks for all the great cooking inspiration! xoxo


Kacy September 7, 2010 at 10:56 am

Oh thank you so much for this recipe! I am always looking for new Indian dishes to cook at home.


Katharina September 7, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Yumm! You know this Indian dish is right up my alley!! I can just imagine how amazing this must’ve tasted, and the smell too :D I love the smell of all of those pungent spices cooking. And you are right… you can never have too much Indian food!



Erica September 7, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Wow…this looks fantastic. Even though I can’t pronounce it… I totally want to make it :) I love that you and Holly are friends. You both seem like so much fun! We must meet up at some point


elise September 8, 2010 at 3:29 am

mmmmm…love me some indian food. ive never made it from scratch before.

im SO jealous of your date with holly btw.


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