This homestyle Pakistani aloo palak with authentic bright flavours is made with yellow potatoes, baby spinach, and aromatic spices. Learn my TWO time-saving hacks to prepare this classic Pakistani dish within 20 minutes!
Friends, I am going to make a statement, you may disagree.
The best Aloo Palak is the homemade kind.
At it's best Aloo Palak should taste like the vegetables in the dish. One of the hallmarks to me of a really good Pakistani vegetarian dish is that it should showcase the flavours of the ingredients.
One niwala with a little piece of chapati shouldn't feel like korma lite.
Okay so now we are on the same page or at the very least humoring me by reading along let's talk about how to make this deliciousness happen. Speaking of deliciousness if you want more Pakistani food inspo then click here.
Time Saving Hack One: Cooking the Potatoes
I love a good hack, don't you? Years ago I was at a friends house and she was making Dossa and she popped her potatoes for the masala in the microwave. That blew my mind. Within minutes she had perfectly mashable potatoes and and lunch on the table soon after.
Ever the skeptic I did some googling and discovered this is a perfectly acceptable way of cooking potatoes.
Now a quick caveat: while I am perfectly happy to do this here because I want the potatoes to retain they clean mellow creamy flavour, I don't preboil my potatoes often. Dishes like Aloo Gobi require the potatoes to be cooked in the spices to fully absorb that flavour profile.
Time Saving Hack Two: No Knives Out
I love chopping. It's therapeutic. Sometimes. Sometimes I just want to get done quickly and for that my food processor is my best friend. Here it chops three vegetables (4 actually) in minutes and all I have to wash after goes in the top rack of the dishwasher.
Now I have a large food processor and a mini one, I use my mini most for this and do the spinach in 2 batches, but you can use either. You can also just chop the veggies.
- Potatoes: Yukon gold/ yellow fleshed potatoes are my forever favourite for Pakistani dishes. Their firm texture means they can stand up to the masala without being over powered by it and they're a joy to eat with chapati. They are also most like the potatoes available in Pakistan.
- Spinach: Here I find I often deviate from what's traditional and opt for tender baby spinach - it's quicker to cook, and requires no prep. Feel free to use an equivalent amount of frozen, but squeeze the excess water out.
- Onions: Yellow cooking onions are my default, red work too
- Tomatoes: Roma over all else. IMHO. Also one is plenty here because more can overpower the main stars.
- Green Chilies: It is unusual to use them as I do, but oh so tasty. Thai or Pakistani chilies work well, but use what you are comfortable with (see I am not bossy about everything)
- Garlic paste: I let this guy go solo here because I love it's tanginess here and how it adds subtle flavour.
- Lemon juice: a little squeeze brightens the dish and cuts the chalkiness of spinach.
Ingredients: Spices & Dried
- Salt (duh)
- Cumin seeds for that beautiful aroma
- Dried red chilies for a note of spice
- Chili Powder for that direct hit
- Turmeric for it's sweet pungency
- Kasuri Methi or Dried Fenugreek because it is just wonderful and the soft aroma pairs beautifully with spinach.
How to Cook Aloo Palak: 6 Steps, 20 minutes
Step One: Poke holes in your potatoes and microwave them till tender. Put a pan on medium heat just about now too.
Step Two: While your potatoes are microwaving go ahead and put your onion in the food processor, give it a quick whirr, remove the onions and then process your tomato, remove, and process the spinach and chilies. Your chopping is complete.
Step Three: Add oil to your now hot pan, then the cumin seeds and dried chilli (it will all sizzle deliciously immediately), and then add in your onion and sauté till the edges start to change colour.
Step Four: Now add the garlic paste, the tomato, and powdered spices and sauté on medium high heat for 2 minutes for a jammy looking masala.
Step Five: Peel and dice your now cooled potatoes and add them to the pot, mix well.
Step Six: Add your spinach, mix well, sprinkle over your kasuri methi and cover and leave on low heat for 4-5 minutes. The oil should start to rise a little.
Finishing touches: Uncover, adjust seasoning, add a squeeze of lemon juice, and enjoy with hot roti and dahi (my fave combo!)
Note that the Palak will be a brighter green initially, but as it sits the colour darkens. This is an absolutely natural phenomenon and nothing to worry about!
Some of you smarty pants will point out that if you are ready to go then this dish can be made in close to 15. You are not wrong.
What to Serve with Aloo Palak?
Although I did just say just Dahi and Roti are enough I get that sometimes a little menu building is in order. Here are some possible combinations.
Hope you enjoy the Aloo Palak! Rate it by clicking the number of stars on the recipe card and/or leave a comment below!
20-Minute Pakistani Aloo Palak (Spinach & Potato)
- 2-3 potatoes 275g approx
- 11 oz baby spinach (see notes) 312g
- 2 green chilies
- ½ onion
- 1 tomato
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1-2 dried red chilies
- ½ tsp garlic
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp chili powder
- a pinch haldi (approx ¼ tsp)
- 1 tbsp kasuri methi
- lemon juice for squeezing
- Poke your potatoes with and a fork and microwave for 6-8 minutes, flipping halfway until just tender. (see notes if you'd rather not microwave)
- While the potatoes are microwaving put your pan on medium heat.
- Run your onion through a food processor, set aside. Repeat with the tomatoes and then the spinach and green chilies (the last two together).
- Now add oil to your pan followed by the cumin seeds and dried chilli and then the onions. Sauté till the edges of the onion start to change color
- Add in your garlic paste, give it a quick mix and then add your tomatoes, salt, chili powder, and turmeric.
- Cook on medium to medium high heat until the masala becomes a jammy consistency and the oil rises above the top. While this is happening peel and dice your potatoes.
- Add your potatoes to the pan and give it a good mix then add the spinach, the kasuri methi, and mix well.
- Cover and cook on low for 4-5 minutes and then check for doneness. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, adjust seasoning if needed and serve.
- Not a fan of microwaving? You can always boil them seperately or add them to the masala after the tomatoes have sauteed well. A splash of water may be needed to prevent sticking. Just cook on low heat till tender - about 12 minutes for this quantity of thinly sliced potatoes.
- No food processor? no problem. You can always chop by hand.
- I use baby spinach here for it's convenience and because it cooks faster but you can always use regular or frozen.