Aloo palak – also known as palak aloo or sometimes saag aloo – is a spinach and potato curry dish that's comforting and full of flavour. Combining spices and aromatics with hearty spuds and leafy greens, it makes for a delicious one-pot main or side that's both vegan and gluten-free.
Whereas some recipes may opt for smaller cubes of potato and more oil for a drier final dish, I've gone for slightly bigger chunks and a little more liquid to soften them. I describe these chunks as 'bite-sized', but any size will do as long as they're consistent and you adjust the liquid and cooking time accordingly.
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What is aloo palak?
Aloo palak is a dish comprising potatoes (aloo), spinach (palak), and spices. Originally found in the regions of northern India and Pakistan, it has become popular around the world as a delicious way to turn the humble potato into a hearty meal.
Are palak aloo and saag aloo the same?
In Hindi, palak means 'spinach' whereas saag refers to the wider range of leafy green vegetables used in cooking. A saag curry may therefore include ingredients such as mustard greens, collard greens, basella, broccoli, or fenugreek leaves, as well as spinach.
You may also come across the terms aloo palak sabzi or sabji, which are simply other names for this cooked vegetable dish.
Is aloo palak healthy?
Aloo palak can be a very healthy meal packed with plenty of nutrients from the potatoes and spinach. In one serving of this recipe, you'll find:
- Calories: 255 kcal
- Potassium: 1143 mg (33% of RDA)
- Fibre: 7 grams (29% of RDA)
- Vitamin C: 56 mg (68% of RDA)
Is it vegan?
Provided you use cooking oil instead of ghee (clarified dairy butter), this recipe will be 100% vegan and dairy-free.
Is it spicy?
This dish is usually fairly mild in terms of heat, making it a good choice for those with a low tolerance. Of course, you could make it as spicy as you like by adding extra fresh chilli or chilli powder.
Which spices are best?
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to spices, so if you don't have all the ones listed below then simply work with what you have.
After experimenting with this recipe a few times, I decided on:
- Cumin seeds
- Mustard seeds
- Ground coriander
- Ground fenugreek
- Garam masala
Which potatoes are best?
The simple answer to this is a good all-round variety such as Désirée, Maris Piper, or Yukon Gold. These versatile potatoes are great for curries, stovies, soup, roasting, mashing, breakfast hash, and even pancakes.
Waxy varieties such as Anya or Jersey Royals will hold their shape better, however they won't absorb the flavours as well and will take slightly longer to cook.
What you'll need
This one-pot potato spinach curry relies on simple base ingredients and a fusion of whole and ground spices to add depth of flavour. You'll need:
- Potatoes (aloo) for the bulk of the dish
- Spinach (palak) to cook down into the curry
- Aromatics in the form of onion, garlic, ginger, and chilli
- Spices to bring everything to life (see recipe for details)
How to make aloo palak
In a large pan (with a lid for later), heat the oil on a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and fry until they just begin to sizzle and pop, being careful not to burn them (1).
Next, add the chopped onion along with a pinch of salt and cook for 5-6 minutes or until starting to turn soft and slightly golden. Once the onions have softened, stir in the chopped garlic, ginger, and chilli and cook for another minute (2).
Add the chopped potatoes and stir well (3), followed by the ground coriander, fenugreek, and turmeric (4).
Mix everything well (5), then add the water to the pan (6). Cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low.
Simmer with the lid on for 10-12 minutes or until the potatoes are beginning to soften, checking on them every now and then.
The cooking time will depend on the size of your potato pieces, so just keep an eye on them. They should be tender and easy to pierce with a knife, but not mushy and falling apart.
Remove the lid and begin adding the chopped spinach to the pan (7). Continue adding this and cooking for a few minutes until it has all wilted down (8).
While I like the final mix to be fairly dry, I sometimes add an extra splash of water at this stage.
Stir in the garam masala and lemon juice and cook for another minute. Check the potatoes are cooked through, adjust the seasoning, and serve.
Enjoy this dish as part of a larger meal, or as a main along with sides such as boiled rice or homemade pilau rice. I like to keep it in the fridge as a go-to snack and it also makes a great filling for wraps.
Other serving suggestions include:
- Naan bread / puri / chapati
- Roasted cauliflower
- Fresh coriander
- Fresh chilli
Yes, this recipe is 100% gluten-free as written.
Refrigerate for up to four days. Like many curries, it'll taste even better after a day or two in the fridge.
Yep – store this in the freezer in airtight containers for up to six months. Defrost and reheat thoroughly before eating.
Variations and tips for vegan potato curry
- Spices: If you don't have all these to hand, just use what you have. But I'd highly recommend getting stocked up and experimenting with more spiced dishes!
- Pan: If your pan doesn't have a lid, you may need a little extra liquid (and time) to cook the potatoes.
- Spinach: This will cook down a fair bit, so feel free to add extra if you prefer a more spinach-heavy version.
- Frozen spinach: You can certainly use frozen spinach here, however it'll help to defrost this first before adding to the potatoes.
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More vegan recipe ideas
If you liked this recipe, you may also enjoy:
Aloo Palak (Vegan Spinach Potato Curry)
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Salt to taste
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 1-2 finger chillies, chopped (deseeded if you prefer less heat)
- 1.8 lb (800 g) potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground fenugreek
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ cup (120 ml) water (plus more as needed)
- 5 oz (150 g) spinach, rinsed and finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- Juice of half a lemon (optional)
- In a large pan (with a lid for later), heat the oil on a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and fry briefly until they just begin to sizzle and pop, being careful not to burn them.
- Next, add the chopped onion along with a pinch of salt and cook for 5-6 minutes or until starting to turn soft and slightly golden.
- Once the onions have softened, stir in the chopped garlic, ginger, and chilli and cook for another minute.
- Add the chopped potatoes and stir well, followed by the ground coriander, fenugreek, and turmeric. Mix well and add the water, then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low.
- Simmer with the lid on for 10-12 minutes or until the potatoes are beginning to soften, checking on them every now and then. The cooking time will depend on the size of your potato pieces, so just keep an eye on them. They should be tender and easy to pierce with a knife, but not mushy and falling apart.
- Remove the lid and begin adding the chopped spinach to the pan. Continue adding this and cooking for a few minutes until it has all wilted down. While I like the final mix to be fairly dry, I sometimes add an extra splash of water at this stage.
- Stir in the garam masala and lemon juice and cook for another minute. Check the potatoes are cooked through, adjust the seasoning, and serve with fresh coriander. Enjoy as part of a larger meal, or as a main along with sides such as homemade pilau rice.
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