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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