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Hearty, healthy, and simple, this comforting recipe for aloo palak (aloo saag) comes together in under 30 minutes for a delicious vegan side dish. Made in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop, this simple potato and spinach curry pairs perfectly with fresh roti, paratha, or rice.
When it comes to a quick and comforting recipe, this Punjabi aloo palak hits the mark. Ready in under 30 minutes, filling, and full of flavor, this spinach curry with potatoes will convince even your pickiest eaters to love spinach.
There are several reasons I love making aloo palak for my family. The simple ingredients, fresh flavors, and the ability to pair it with just about anything make it a favorite in our household.
With the help of the Instant Pot, you can now make this dish in under 30 minutes and in one pot, making dinner clean-up a breeze.
What is aloo palak made of?
Aloo palak is a simple and comforting North Indian side dish made from potatoes and spinach. The name aloo palak comes directly from the Hindi words for potato “aloo” and spinach “palak”.
This simple side dish varies from household to household and can be made in two main ways, dry or with a sauce/gravy (as shared in this recipe below).
Some other names for aloo palak curry include aloo palak dhaba style, aalu palak ki sabji, aloo saag, or spinach and potato curry.
Saag vs. Palak
While often used interchangeably, saag and palak have two different meanings. Saag is more broadly used to describe a green curry made with a blend of leafy greens such as spinach and mustard greens. Palak, on the other hand, comes directly from the Hindi word for spinach.
This means dishes labeled palak would only contain spinach, while dishes labeled saag could include spinach and a blend of other leafy greens.
Reasons to love this aloo palak
- Healthy – This simple potato and spinach curry is loaded with fresh spinach making it a healthy option for everyone.
- Quick – This dish comes together in 30 minutes or less with the Instant Pot.
- Vegan / Vegetarian meal
- Versatile – With numerous variations to try, from omitting onions to adding fenugreek, there are countless ways to enjoy this aloo saag.
Here’s what you need
- Spinach (palak)– Fresh, chopped spinach with any thick stalks removed.
- Potatoes– Medium-sized russet or red potatoes work well in this recipe.
- Aromatics– Onion, green chilies (Bird’s eye), garlic, and ginger
- Tomatoes– Fresh tomato, chopped
- Seasoning – Season this simple side dish with salt, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and garam masala
How to pick the best potatoes for aloo palak
You will want to start with the best ingredients to get the most out of this recipe. When you are selecting potatoes at the grocery store or farmers market, look for potatoes that are:
- Firm when you squeeze them
- Blemish-free (no cuts, bruises, etc.)
When properly stored, potatoes last for up to 2 weeks. This makes them a great pantry staple ingredient to always keep on hand whenever the craving for aloo palak, aloo gobi, or truly any potato recipe strikes.
To prepare your potatoes for this aloo-based dish, start by cleaning the exterior of the potato. To clean your potatoes:
- Rinse under cool water.
- Use a vegetable brush to clean and scrub away any dirt or debris on the potato’s skin.
- Dry with a clean dish towel or paper towel.
Picking the best spinach (palak)
The second most important ingredient in this recipe is spinach or palak. Just like you want to select a clean, firm potato, there are some things you will want to keep in mind while you select your spinach.
I would recommend looking for bunches of spinach instead of the pre-washed bags of spinach.
- Select a bunch with crisp, dark leaves.
- Avoid any wilted or yellowed leaves.
- Look for thin stalks on the spinach leaves.
If you go for a pre-washed bag, check the expiration date and inspect it as best as possible. Avoid the ones with wilted leaves, yellowing leaves, or slimy-looking film in the bag.
All you need is an Instant Pot for this recipe. If you decide to saute the potatoes in a stir-fry pan as I did, you’ll also need that.
Just like every household has a different take on biryani, aloo saag can easily be made in various ways. Some of my favorite variations include:
- Without tomatoes – Omit the diced tomatoes from the recipe.
- Without onion and garlic – Some communities in India don’t eat onion/garlic when they are observing a religious fast. The good thing about this recipe is that you can skip both, and the dish will still taste good.
- Dhaba-style – Deep-fry the potatoes till they are golden brown.
- Chop the spinach finely instead of pureeing them for a dry dish instead of a wet curry.
- Make it with ghee instead of oil.
- Use baby potatoes instead of regular potatoes.
- Add fresh or dried fenugreek leaves in addition to the spinach or in place of the spinach.
How to prep ahead for aloo palak
The best way to prep for this aloo palak recipe would be to cut your ingredient prep time down by getting a few vegetables chopped and stored in advance.
- Peel and chop your potatoes in advance. They will keep submerged in water overnight. Be sure to drain them before you use them in this recipe.
- Chop and store your onion for up to 10 days in an airtight container.
Keep leftover aloo saag in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Other spinach-based recipes to try
- Spinach and Tomato Dal – Mildly spiced and oh-so-creamy, this Spinach Dal (Dal Palak) recipe comes together in under 30 minutes for a protein-packed meal everyone will enjoy.
- Restaurant-Style Saag Paneer – This simple and easy Palak Paneer recipe is a healthier take on the popular restaurant-style spinach and cottage cheese curry. Learn how to make it quickly using an Instant Pot or stovetop.
- 20-Minute Instant Pot Palak Rice – Make a filling bowl of Palak Rice in just 20 minutes with your Instant Pot. This filling and flavorful Spinach Rice is packed with warm spices and fresh vegetables for a gluten-free dish everyone will enjoy!
- Green smoothie – Here’s an invitation to try a green smoothie that actually tastes REALLY good. It is so delicious that you’ll savor every sip rather than gulping it down.
Aloo saag (aloo palak)
- 6 oz chopped spinach/palak ~5-6 cups
- ½ cup water only for stovetop
- 3-4 medium-sized potatoes
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 Indian or Thai green chilies (Bird's eye) finely chopped, optional
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1-inch ginger piece, grated
- salt to taste
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon cumin jeera powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander dhania powder
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- lime juice
Optional steps [ for better flavor]
- To a wok / kadhai kept over medium-heat, add 2 tablespoons oil.
- Shallow-fry the cubed potatoes till they turn golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes aside on a plate.
Instant Pot Method
- Add oil to the steel insert and press the Saute function. Press the Adjust button to move the selection to “low” and wait till the display reads “Hot.”
- Add onions, along with ginger, garlic, green chilies and fry them till they turn soft.
- Add salt, coriander, cumin, and chili powder along with tomatoes. Mix them well.
- Add a cup of water and deglaze – scrap any bits stuck to the bottom of the inner pot.
- Add spinach and mix it well. Place the trivet over the spinach mixture.
- Transfer the potatoes to a steel bowl. Keep the steel bowl on the trivet.
- Pressure cook on high for 4 minutes. Quickly release pressure when the cooking cycle is complete.
- Remove the steel bowl and trivet.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the spinach mixture to a fine paste. If using a blender wait for the contents to cool down for at least 10 minutes.
- Set the saute function in the Instant Pot to low.
- Add the potatoes along with garam masala and lime juice. Stir it in.
- Let the potatoes simmer in the Instant Pot for 5 minutes.
- Take it off the heat and serve hot with rotis or rice.
In a saucepan kept over medium heat, add a cup of water and once the water comes to a boil, add spinach and let it cook in it for 2 minutes or till the stems soften. Turn off the heat and set it aside. [I cook the spinach and don’t blanch it. To blanch, read the notes section].
Meanwhile, heat oil in a wok or a kadhai kept over medium heat. Shallow fry the potatoes till they turn golden brown. Fry them in batches if needed. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a plate.
In the same wok, add onions, along with ginger, garlic, and green chilies, and fry them till they turn soft.
Add salt, coriander, cumin, chili powder, and tomatoes. Mix them well.
Add tomatoes and fry them till they are soft. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down for 5-10 minutes.
Transfer the onion-tomato mixture and the spinach along with water into a blender. Blend it into a smooth puree.
Add the pureed mixture to the wok and set it over medium heat. Add the potatoes and continue to cook till it is fork-tender.
Add garam masala and lime juice. Stir it in.
Take it off the heat and serve it hot with rotis or rice.
Notes (tips/variations)The recipe below is a simple one for home cooks making weekday dinners. If you have some time on your hands, try these different variations that will help you tailor the recipe to your desired taste and texture.
- To make it bright green – Blanching helps retain the green color in the spinach. Add spinach and a pinch of salt to boiling water to blanch. Cook for a couple of minutes or till the stem softens. Immediately transfer it to a bowl of cold water to stop cooking. Blanching causes nutrient loss, so I prefer to cook the spinach and use water to puree it.
- Creamy vs. Coarse texture – you could puree the spinach till it is smooth and silky or just coarsely grind it so that you get some texture. Personally, I like the one with some texture, but the pureed version is definitely the most popular one.
- Saag palak – Use spinach and mustard greens in a 1:1 ratio.
Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.