Palak Chicken Recipe

Palak Chicken
Annabelle Breakey/DigitalVision/Getty Images
Total Time 40 min
Prep 10 min, Cook 30 min
Yield 6 servings

Palak chicken is a delicious spicy Indian chicken with spinach dish. You can serve it as a hearty main course with basmati rice or a bread such as naan. It is quick to prepare if you have the ingredients on hand.

You will want to make a trip to the Indian grocery to get fresh curry leaves, garam masala, black cardamom pods, and Indian red chili powder (similar to ground cayenne pepper, which you could substitute). While you can make the dish without fresh curry leaves, they add a pungent element that isn't found in dry curry powder.

Once you have all of the ingredients stocked, you'll enjoy making this dish and other Indian-spiced dishes.

Makes about 6 servings


  • 3 cups of boneless, skinless chicken cut into cubes (about one inch by one inch)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 7 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon ground garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground fresh ginger root
  • 1 cup tomato sauce or 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (Indian spice mixture)
  • 1/8 teaspoon Indian red chili powder: adjust the amount to taste for the level of hot spice you prefer.
  • salt to taste
  • 4-5 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 box of frozen chopped spinach (10 ounces) or 10 ounces of fresh chopped spinach.


  • If you are using frozen spinach, defrost it and wring all of the water out of it. The dish will taste much better if all of the water is wrung out. Set aside until called for below.
  • Chop the onions and tomatoes (if you are using fresh tomatoes).
  • Grind the garlic and ginger root if you are using fresh garlic and ginger rather than prepared.
  • Fry the fresh curry leaves in the oil for 20 seconds, add the cinnamon, black cardamon, cloves, bay leaves and cook another 20 seconds.
  • Add the onions and cook until golden brown.
  • Add the ginger, garlic, and tomato sauce. Stir this in the pan and then add the turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, red chili powder, salt, and half of the cilantro. Stir
  • Add the chicken. Cook the chicken with the mixture in the pan until the water that cooks out the chicken and vegetables evaporates, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add the spinach and cook until the chicken is tender and cooked.
  • Garnish with the rest of the cilantro.
  • Serve with basmati rice or with a bread such as chapati, roti or naan.

Heat Level: The amount of spicy heat in this dish is determined by the red chili powder and the garam masala. It's easiest to increase or decrease the amount of red chili powder you use to get it to your chosen amount of heat. Some garam masala blends are more spicy hot than others, but it also adds several flavors that you want in the dish.

Accompaniments: Palak chicken would usually be served along with a yogurt raita and vegetable dishes.

Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave for lunch or for make-ahead dinner entrees.

Thanks to my Indian cooking teacher Sunita.

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