Try aloo palak (potato and spinach) for a quick and easy weeknight dinner! This staple Indian dish features stir-fried spinach, tender potatoes, and aromatic spices cooked together in a simple, flavorful, and nutritious recipe.
What is aloo palak?
Originally from Northern India, aloo palak is now popular throughout the country and other parts of the world. As the name suggests (“aloo” means potato, “palak” means spinach), it is a vegetarian-friendly side dish commonly served with roti, naan, or as part of a Thali.
The most traditional versions combine onion, garlic, chilis, spinach, and potatoes together with fragrant Indian spices. But, the great thing about aloo palak is how many different ways it can be prepared. Feel free to experiment with different spices to make yours unique!
Today, I’m sharing a dry aloo palak rather than one cooked in sauce or “gravy.” Instead of red or russet potatoes, I decided to add sweet potatoes to balance the spice from the chilis.
I assure you that once you take your first bite, you’ll be hooked on the beauty of Indian cuisine.
Is aloo palak vegan?
Aloo palak is a traditional vegetarian-friendly recipe, and it’s extremely easy to make vegan. Oftentimes, ghee is used to cook the vegetables, but I’ve opted for avocado oil. You may also find cream in a gravy-based aloo palak, but it’s not necessary for a dry recipe.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Spinach: Making up the “palak” component is chopped spinach. Use fresh spinach whenever possible, but it can be replaced with frozen spinach. Make sure it is completely thawed, and squeeze out all of the excess water before adding it to the recipe.
- Sweet potatoes: For the “aloo” portion. I prefer the sweet taste and creaminess of sweet potatoes, but regular potatoes are the more traditional choice.
- Onion: White or yellow onion both work well. For a milder taste, opt for spring onions.
- Avocado oil: I prefer avocado oil for my aloo palak, but you can also use vegan butter, coconut oil, or another vegetable oil in its place.
- Dried chilis: To add just the right amount of heat. If you are sensitive to spice, you may want to omit the dried chilis.
- Garlic paste: For a savory, hearty, and zesty taste. You can use freshly minced garlic, but garlic paste is such a time-saver.
- Spices: Typical seasonings include dried fenugreek leaves, cumin (seeds and powder), anise seeds, coriander powder, garam masala, and turmeric. I love this combination, but feel free to experiment with measurements to suit your taste preferences.
- Lemon juice: To add a tart, vibrant, and fresh element. Use fresh lemon over lemon juice concentrate from a bottle. If you don’t have lemon, replace it with vinegar.
- Water: This is added right after the spices to avoid the spices from burning when cooking.
- Salt: Season with salt to taste.
- Asafoetida powder: Also known as asafetida, this common Indian spice imparts a full-bodied, savory element to aloo palak. If you can’t find it, it’s okay to omit.
- Step 1: Heat the avocado oil in a large pan or wok. Add in the cumin seeds and anise seeds, letting them sizzle.
- Step 2: Add the onions, garlic, red chilis, and asafoetida. Cook for about a minute, or until the onions are translucent and fragrant.
- Step 3: Mix in the turmeric, cumin powder, garam masala, coriander powder, and dried fenugreek leaves, along with some water. Give the mixture a good stir.
- Step 4: Toss in the potatoes, and combine until all of the cubes are properly coated. Cover the pan with a lid and let the potatoes cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Open the lid every few minutes, checking on the tenderness and stirring the potatoes.
- Step 5: Once the potatoes are cooked, start adding a handful of chopped spinach one at a time. Stir and let the leaves wilt before adding another handful. Keep adding and stirring until all of the spinach is mixed in.
- Step 6: Cook for another minute, then squeeze in the lemon juice. Once all of the water is evaporated, turn off the heat. Serve your aloo palak immediately while hot.
What to serve with aloo palak
Now that you’ve cooked a flavor-packed aloo palak recipe, round it out with some traditional Indian side dishes like these:
- Vegan naan
- Jeera rice
Storage & Reheating
Although aloo palak is best eaten immediately, it sure makes for great leftovers! Follow these storage tips to keep it fresh:
- Fridge: Once cooled, transfer the leftovers to an airtight container for up to 2 days.
- Freeze: I don’t recommend freezing aloo palak as the texture of the potatoes tends to become mushy when thawed.
- Reheating: To reheat, simply add some avocado oil to a pan over medium-low and sauté again until everything is warmed. Alternatively, you can microwave it in 30-second increments until hot.
- Gravy: Instead of dry aloo palak, make a gravy by blending spinach, spices, and onions until smooth. Serve the potatoes in the blended spinach sauce.
- Extra spicy: Double or triple the amount of spicy peppers if you can take the heat! You can also add red chili powder.
- Different spices: The great thing about aloo palak is how customizable the spices are. Try any combination of cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, coriander, red chili powder, anise seed, fenugreek, asafoetida, Indian bay leaves, or ginger.
- Regular potatoes: I love making this recipe with sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. Test out both varieties to see what you prefer!
- Don’t skip the oil: Cooking the potatoes in a little oil adds the necessary fat in order to enhance the overall flavor of this dish.
- Check the spinach: Large leafy spinach has a higher water content compared to baby spinach, meaning it will take slightly longer to cook. Keep this in mind when you are planing out the cooking time.
- Cut the potatoes evenly: To ensure everything cooks at the same rate, cut the potatoes into small, even cubes.
If you’d like to make this aloo palak recipe gluten-free, omit the asafoetida since it is often packaged with wheat flour. However, the brand Frontier Naturals makes a gluten-free version.
The most common spices used in aloo palak are coriander, turmeric, garam masala, red chili powder, cumin, and fenugreek. Use more or less of each one, depending on how complex you would like to make the dish.
More Dinner Recipes
If you enjoyed this aloo palak recipe, you need to try some more popular Green Heart Love dinners:
- Moong masoor dal: A simple Indian recipe made in the Instant Pot.
- Red Thai curry: A spicy vegetable curry served in a creamy broth.
- Vegan bowl: An easy grain bowl made with protein-packed tofu.
- Baked pasta: A flavor-packed pasta recipe made with vegan cheese.
- 12 cups spinach chopped (roughly or finely); as preferred
- 4 cups sweet potato chopped in small bite size pieces
- 1 cup onion diced
- 2 tablespoon avocado oil
- 3 whole dried chilis
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste or minced
- 2 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
- 2 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon anise seeds
- 2 tbsp lemon juice fresh
- 1 teaspoon garam masla powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch asafoetida powder
- Heat oil in a large pan or wok on medium-low heat. Add in the cumin seeds and anise seeds. Let them sizzle.
- Then add onions, garlic, red chilis, and asafoetida. Cook for a minute till onions are translucent and fragrant.
- Then mix in all the rest of the spices: turmeric, cumin powder, garam masala, coriander powder, and dried fenugreek leaves. Add the water to avoid spices from burning.
- Toss in the potatoes and combine until all the potatoes are properly coated. Cover the pan/wok with a lid and let the potatoes cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Open the lid and stir every 3 minutes and check on the tenderness of the potatoes.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, then start adding a handful of chopped spinach one at a time. Stir and let it wilt before adding another handful. Keep adding and stirring till all the spinach is all mixed in.
- Cook for a minute and mix in lemon juice. Turn off the heat once the all the water is evaporated.
- Serve hot with flatbread or naan.