This potato spinach curry is easy to make, packed with healthy leafy greens and flavourful spices.
What is aloo palak?
Aloo palak is a Northern Indian dish made from potatoes, spinach and spices.
It’s a well-known dish that can be found in many Indian restaurants and is a popular choice amongst vegetarians.
(If you’re vegan, be aware that aloo palak can sometimes be made with ghee).
Aloo palak is typically a dry curry, meaning that the ingredients are stir-fried rather than served in a sauce.
How is this potato spinach curry different?
My potato spinach curry recipe might seem like aloo palak because it shares the main ingredients, but it is not meant to be aloo palak.
Rather than a dry curry, my recipe features tender potatoes in a spinach sauce.
It is an adaptation of my spinach curry recipe and more similar to palak paneer or chana palak recipes.
Also, I’m not Indian nor am I an expert in Indian cuisine so this is by no means an authentic recipe!
Ingredients you’ll need
The ingredients for this potato spinach curry are super healthy, and I’ve kept the list of spices to ones that are accessible while delivering a lot of flavour.
Potatoes: Use whatever kind of potatoes you have. Boiling the potatoes with the skin on, as called for in this recipe, will prevent them from absorbing too much water and falling apart.
Spinach: I use fresh spinach in this recipe. I prefer to get whole spinach leaves or a bag of chopped spinach rather than baby spinach because of the price. But baby spinach will work too.
Onion, garlic, ginger: These are the flavour base of this curry.
Green chili pepper: Any variety of spicy green chili. I use jalapeño because that’s all I have available to me. You can adjust the number of chilis you use depending on how spicy they are and how high your spice tolerance is.
Tomatoes: A couple of ripe tomatoes add moisture and flavour to the spinach sauce.
Spices: Cumin seeds, cinnamon, cardamom pods, cloves, garam masala and turmeric are the spices called for in this recipe. The garam masala I use does not have chili powder in it and is not spicy.
Neutral oil: Choose an oil that doesn’t have a strong flavour as the spices will be used to flavour the oil. I use sunflower but canola or vegetable oil will work too.
How to make potato spinach curry
This spinach and potato recipe is super easy to make and is a great option for vegan meal prep as it keeps well in the fridge for several days.
Cook the potatoes: Start by placing the whole potatoes into a pot of water. Keeping the skin on the potatoes prevents them from absorbing too much water. This helps keep the flavour in and stops the potatoes from falling apart.
Cover the pot and bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let them cook until they can be easily pierced with a knife.
Remove the potatoes from the water and set them aside to cool.
Once they are cool enough to handle, you can peel the skin off and cut them into small cubes.
Prepare the spinach sauce: While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the spinach curry.
Start by blanching the spinach in boiling water to tenderize it. If you’re using baby spinach, it just needs a few seconds to soften. Mature spinach with larger leaves will need a minute or two.
Often, recipes for aloo palak call for transferring the blanched spinach to a bowl of ice water so that it maintains its bright green colour.
Because I’m lazy I usually skip this in favour of draining the spinach into a colander and running cool water over it.
Then transfer the spinach to a food processor along with a chunk of ginger, garlic and chili pepper. Blend into a puree.
Temper the spices: Tempering the spices means to gently fry them in order to bring our their aromas and infuse the oil with their flavour.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves and whole cardamom pods.
Let them cook for about 2 minutes, or until they smell great and the cumin seeds begin to darken a bit in colour.
Be careful not to burn the spices or else they will turn bitter!
Fry the vegetables: To the pan add the onion and fry until soft before adding the garlic and frying.
Now is the time that I usually remove the whole spices from the pan.
Add the tomato and fry. As the tomatoes soften, squish them with the back of your spoon to help them break down into a sauce.
Now add the garam masala and turmeric. Let everything fry together for about 30 seconds to bring out the flavours.
Combine: Now you can combine everything in the pan. Pour in the spinach sauce and let it cook for a minute or two to cook out the raw garlic and ginger.
Add the potatoes and as much water as you like to reach the consistency that you prefer.
I like this potato spinach curry to be a bit saucy to pour over the rice. I usually add ¼ - ½ cup of water.
Also, add salt to taste.
Serve this spinach and potato recipe over rice and/or with naan.
Substitutions and variations
This potato spinach curry recipe is easy to customize to your taste and whatever ingredients you have on hand.
Different vegetables: Instead of potatoes, use chickpeas, cauliflower, or tofu for a vegan version of palak paneer. Any vegetables that you think would go nice is a curried spinach sauce!
Make it creamy: You can add a dash of coconut milk, cashew cream or vegan cream to make this a creamy vegan curry.
No tomatoes: If you don’t have fresh ripe tomatoes on hand, feel free to omit them.
Spices: Dried fenugreek is often used with Indian spinach recipes. If you have some, you can add it to the pan when you add the spinach puree. If you don’t have fresh green chili, you can substitute cayenne pepper or Indian chili powder.
I haven’t tried it with frozen spinach but I don’t see why not. You’ll probably need 8 - 9 oz frozen spinach. You can thaw it in the fridge overnight, in the microwave or in a pot over the stove. Be sure to drain off the excess water.
Yes, it is gluten free as written.
The level of spice is up to you. As written, this curry has a mild to medium heat. Omit the chili pepper and make sure your garam masala doesn’t have any chili powder for a spice-free curry. Remove the seeds from the chili to reduce the heat a bit. Add two chili peppers if you like it hot.
You can cook the potatoes in an Instant Pot.
No, palak and spinach are the same thing.
Make ahead and storage tips
If you happen to have any leftover cooked diced potatoes, this recipe is a great way to use them up. Just prepare the spinach sauce and toss in the potatoes when ready.
Store the finished potato spinach curry in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Frozen curry can be thawed overnight in the fridge. Refrigerated curry can be reheated in the microwave.
What to serve with potato spinach curry
Serve this potato spinach curry over basmati rice and/or with a flatbread such as naan, roti or paratha.
A dollop of plain or coconut yogurt is a nice garnish to this curry and is particularly refreshing if you’ve added a lot of chili pepper.
On the side you can serve a refreshing salad such as kachumber made from tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, cilantro and lemon juice.
Potato Spinach Curry
- 10.5 oz (300 grams) potatoes
- 9 oz (250 grams) fresh spinach
- 0.5 oz (15 grams) fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, one roughly chopped and two finely minced
- 1 spicy green chili pepper roughly chopped or adjust to taste
- ½ cup (120 ml) water or as much as necessary
- 3 tablespoons neutral oil, sunflower, canola, vegetable, etc.
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 cloves
- 3 green cardamom pods
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Place the whole, unpeeled potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until easily pierced with a knife - 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the potatoes and set aside to cool. Once cool, peel the skin and cut them into small cubes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the spinach sauce. If using whole mature spinach, cut out the thick stems and roughly chop the leaves. If using baby spinach, no prep is necessary.
- Bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Once boiling, turn off the heat and add the spinach to blanch it. Baby spinach only needs about 30 seconds. Mature spinach may need a couple of minutes. It’s ready when it’s tender and bright green.
- Optional: to maintain the bright green colour, transfer the blanched spinach to a bowl of ice water. Most of the time I’m too lazy and just run it under cold water in a colander.
- Allow the excess water to drain off the spinach and transfer it to a food processor along with the ginger, the one clove of roughly chopped garlic and the chili pepper. Blend to a sauce. If the processor is having a hard time getting going, add a couple tablespoons of water.
- In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Once hot add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and cumin. Fry, stirring frequently, until the cumin darkens slightly in colour and the spices are very fragrant - 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the onion and fry until soft, then add the two minced cloves of garlic and fry until soft. Now is a good time to remove the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom pods.
- Add the tomato and fry until soft - about 3 - 4 minutes. Squish the tomato with the back of your spoon into a paste.
- Add the garam masala and turmeric and cook for 30 seconds to bring out the flavours. Add the pureed spinach and cook for 1 - 2 minutes to cook out the raw ginger and garlic.
- Add the cubed potatoes and as much water as necessary to reach the consistency that you like. I like a bit of sauce so I add about ¼ cup (60 ml). Simmer for a couple of minutes until the potatoes are heated through. Add salt and you can add additional garam masala if you think it needs a bit more flavour.