This Palak biryani or spinach biryani is an easy biryani variety made in one pot. Spinach which is the star ingredient blends harmoniously with the aromatics, herbs, and spices in this recipe. Pair this healthy green biryani with raita or salad or pickle for a comforting lunch or dinner.
Usually making biryani is a very elaborate and time-consuming task. Although it is worth the time but many times we don’t have so much time and we look for easy solutions for our meals.
If someday you want to try authentic veg biryani then I suggest you to check this detailed recipe of Hyderabadi Veg Biryani.
Coming back to this simple spinach biryani – this is a one-pot biryani that is very easy to make. You can use both fresh as well as frozen spinach in the recipe. For frozen spinach thaw first and then squeeze all the water before using it.
I won’t suggest adding any other greens like fenugreek as it will alter the taste. You can make this biryani more healthy by adding vegetables like potatoes, green peas, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.
If you have spinach and want an easy as well as a satisfying meal, then do make this green palak biryani. Two more recipes you can make with rice and spinach combo are:
Pair the palak biryani with a boondi raita or just kachumber (side salad), pickle and papad and you have one complete meal. You can also have the biryani with some plain yogurt.
There are no layers in this method and you don’t have to cook two or three things separately. The spinach is pureed and then cooked with the onion, tomatoes, spices along with the rice. Easy and a quick biryani recipe, unlike the regular biryani variety.
I have also added almonds in the spinach puree just to give a creamy and smooth touch. The spinach blends very well with the aroma and flavors of the other ingredients resulting in a delicious biryani.
I have slightly overcooked the rice as I ended up adding more than 4 cups of water. If you use 3.5 or 4 cups of water (depending on the quality of rice), you will get separate grains of rice. Just make sure that you cover the pan tightly with the lid while cooking the rice.
How to make Palak Biryani
1. Rinse palak (spinach leaves) very well in water. Then drain the water thoroughly.
TIP: Preferably use only the leaves. If the stems are tender you can include them. But if the stems are stringy or tough then do not use them.
2. Measure, rinse and chop 1 medium bunch of spinach leaves, 1 to 2 green chilies, ½ cup mint leaves, ½ cup coriander leaves and 5 to 6 almonds.
3. In a blender, add the chopped spinach leaves, mint leaves, coriander leaves, green chilies and almonds.
TIP: Instead of almonds you can also use cashews. Almonds bring a bit of creaminess and richness to the dish. If you are not a fan of nuts then skip them altogether.
4. Add ½ cup water and blend to a smooth puree. There should be no fine chunks of almonds.
5. First rinse and then soak the rice for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain all the water from the rice after 20 to 30 minutes and set aside.
TIP: Preferably use basmati rice or any long grain rice. For biryani and pulao I always prefer to use aged basmati rice as they give the best taste and texture.
6. Keep all the spice powders, whole spices and ginger-garlic paste ready for making spinach biryani.
Making palak biryani
7. Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons oil or ghee in a thick bottom and deep pan or pot. Then add the following ingredients:
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 1 small star anise (chakriphool)
- 2 green cardamoms
- 1 to 2 black cardamoms
- 2 to 3 cloves
- 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
- 1 pinch mace
8. Fry for some seconds on a low heat or till the oil gets fragrant. Take care not to burn the spices.
9. Add 1 large sized sliced onion.
10. Saute stirring often on low to medium-low heat till they are browned or caramelized. Make sure not to burn the onions.
Set aside a few caramelized onions for garnishing.
11. Add 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste and stir well.
12. Add 1 pinch of hing (asafoetida). Adding asafoetida is optional.
13. Saute for few seconds or till the raw aroma of ginger and garlic goes away.
14. Now add 1 medium-sized chopped tomato.
15. Saute the tomatoes stirring often for 2 to 3 minutes or till they soften.
16. Keep on stirring so that the ingredients do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the spinach puree and mix thoroughly.
17. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes on low to medium-low heat.
18. Now add the following spices one by one and mix well:
- ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
19. Then add salt as required.
20. Stir and mix again.
21. Add the soaked rice.
22. Mix well and saute for 1 to 2 minutes on a low heat.
23. Pour 3.5 or 4 cups of water. The amount of water that you can add depends upon the age, quality and type of rice. You can add less or more water as required.
24. Check the taste of the broth and if required add some more salt as required. The taste should be slightly salty.
25. Cover tightly with a lid and cook till the water is absorbed and the rice is tender and fluffy.
26. Gently fluff the rice.
Serve Palak biryani hot or warm garnished with the fried onions and fried cashews with a side vegetable curry, raita, yogurt curry or some salad.
You can also garnish with herbs like coriander (cilantro) or mint leaves.
It will go well with most raita varieties like boondi raita or cucumber raita or onion raita or even with plain yogurt (curd).
Few more tasty biryani varieties
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- 2 cups basmati rice – soaked for 30 minutes
- 1 onion (large) – thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon Ginger Garlic Paste
- 1 tomato (medium-sized) – chopped
- 3.5 to 4 cups water or as required
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 12 to 15 fried cashews (optional), for garnish
- salt as required
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 1 star anise (small-sized) – optional
- 2 green cardamoms
- 1 or 2 black cardamoms
- 2 to 3 cloves
- 1 tej patta (medium-sized)
- 1 to 2 strands mace
Ground spice powders
For making palak puree
- 1 medium bunch of spinach
- ½ cup mint leaves
- ½ cup coriander leaves
- 1 or 2 green chilies
- 5 to 6 almonds
Making palak puree
- Rinse the palak (spinach leaves) very well in water.
- Chop and keep aside. Rinse and chop the green chilies, mint leaves and coriander leaves
- In a blender, add the chopped spinach leaves, mint leaves, coriander leaves, green chili and almonds.
- Add ½ cup water and blend to a smooth paste.
- First rinse and then soak the rice. When the rice is soaking, prepare the spinach puree as mentioned above.
- Heat oil in a thick bottom and deep pan or pot. Add all the whole spices.
- Fry for some seconds or till the oil gets fragrant.
- Add the sliced onions and fry till they are browned stirring often. Remove some of the fried onions for garnishing.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for some seconds. Now add hing and saute for few seconds.
Sautéing tomatoes and spinach puree
- Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté till the tomatoes becomes soft for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Keep on stirring so that the ingredients do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the spinach puree and stir. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Now all the dry spice powders one by one and stir.
- Add salt as required. Drain the soaked rice and add. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour 3.5 or 4 cups water.
- Check the taste of the broth and if required add some more salt.
Cooking palak biryani
- Cover tightly with a lid and cook till the water is absorbed and the rice is tender and fluffy. Fluff the rice.
- Serve palak biryani hot or warm garnished with the fried onions and fried cashews with a side vegetable curry, raita, yogurt curry or some salad.
- You can also garnish with herbs like coriander (cilantro) or mint leaves.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Palak Biryani post from the blog archives first published in May 2013 has been republished and updated on 18 January 2022.