Palak Rice | Indian Spinach Rice

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Palak rice, also known as Spinach rice is a healthy variation of pilaf or pulao made with spinach puree, rice, onions, spices and herbs. This delightful recipe is ready in 30 minutes and makes for a nutritious meal when paired with salad, pickle or raita.

Palak rice garnished with a mint leaf in a bowl

About This Recipe

Palak rice or palak pulao is a simple one-pot recipe. Palak is the Hindi word for spinach and pulao is a rice dish cooked with aromatics in a pot. There are many variations of making pulao and this is one such healthy variation and a great way to use any leftover spinach or frozen spinach.

Spinach with all its health benefits makes a good flavor combination with veggies, lentils and cereals. I always buy fresh spinach, amaranth and fenugreek leaves which I include in various recipes such as paratha, lentils, biryani or pulao.

Greens in our food are always good. For kids who do not like green leafy veggies, greens can be added to recipes without kids suspecting their presence.

In this healthy homemade version of palak pulav, you can add your choice of mixed veggies. In fact, fresh green peas, carrots and potatoes are fantastic in this spinach rice.

I have also made this recipe in the past with spinach and added veggies and it still tasted great! Depending on what is available in your kitchen, palak rice can alternatively be made with green peas, cauliflower, corn kernels, bell pepper, broccoli, french beans, carrots and potatoes.

I have cooked the entire recipe in a pressure cooker to save time and fuel. You can also cook the spinach rice in a pot or pan or in the Instant pot. Spices can be adjusted according to your taste.

Serve palak rice with a side salad, pickle or raita. You can also garnish it with some chopped coriander leaves or mint leaves. Pan fried paneer or tofu cubes also go very well as a garnish and gives some protein boost to the dish.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Palak Rice

1. Rinse 1 cup of basmati rice till the water runs clear of starch. Then soak the rice grains in enough water for 20 to 30 minutes. Later drain the water and keep the soaked rice aside.

Basmati rice soaked in water

Making Spinach Puree

2. While the rice is soaking, rinse the spinach leaves very well in water a few times. Then drain all the water and roughly chop them. You will need 3 cups of roughly chopped spinach.

Roughly chopped spinach

3. Now add the spinach leaves into a blender or grinder jar. Add 1 to 3 green chilies, 1 inch ginger and 3 to 4 garlic cloves (all roughly chopped). Add green chilies as per your requirements.

Note that 1 green chili makes this spinach rice bland while 2 to 3 makes it moderately spicy.

Spinach, chillies, ginger and cloves of garlic in the blender

4. Blend to a smooth puree. Cover and set aside.

Palak puree

Making Palak Rice

5. In a pressure cooker, heat 2 tablespoons of any neutral-flavored oil. Lower the heat and add the following spices and saute them till they splutter. Make sure not to burn the spices. 

  • 1 tej patta or Indian bay leaf
  • 3 to 4 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1 single mace strand
  • 1 small star anise – optional
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
Oil and spices

6. Add ⅓ cup of thinly sliced onions.

Thinly sliced onions

7. Stir and saute the onions on a medium low to medium heat till light golden or golden. Stir often so that the onions cook evenly.

Sauted onion

8. Add the prepared spinach puree.

Spinach puree and spices

9. Stir and saute for 4 to 5 minutes.

Spinach puree and spices being stirred

10. Add the soaked rice.

Soaked rice

11. Stir and gently mix the rice very well.

Rice mixed with spinach puree

12. Add salt as required.

Rice and spinach mixture with salt

13. Add water: 1 cup of water gives an al dente rice. For softer textured rice, add 1.25 cups of water. I added 1.25 cups of water.

Rice and spinach mixture with water

14. Mix very well. At this step you may add a few drops of lemon juice. Check the taste of broth and add more salt if needed. The broth should have a slightly salty taste.

Rice and spinach mixture with water with drops of lemon

15. Cover and pressure cook for 8 to 9 minutes or 2 to 3 whistles on a medium to medium-high heat. Wait for the pressure to drop in the cooker on its own, then remove the lid and gently fluff the rice.

Cooked Palak rice

16. Serve palak rice hot or warm with a side salad or mango pickle or lemon pickle or raita of your choice. I prefer to serve with raita varieties like cucumber raita, onion tomato raita and boondi raita.

You may also garnish with chopped coriander or mint leaves. Pan-fried paneer or tofu cubes also pairs very well with the dish. So you can consider pan-frying these and placing them on the rice as a garnish.

Palak rice garnished with a mint leaf in a bowl

Expert Tips for Best Palak Pulao

  • Pressure Cooker: I have made the whole recipe in a pressure cooker to save time and cooking fuel but, you can also make it on the stove in a saucepan or in the Instant pot. Whichever method you prefer, just add water as needed. No matter how you cook, the dish will taste just as delicious!
  • Rice: Make sure you rinse the basmati rice till the water runs clear of starch before you cook it and soak in enough water for 20 to 30 minutes. This will ensure that you get the best fluffy rice texture. Basmati rice gives a good fragrance to the dish. But you can also use any other fragrant variety of rice or regular rice.
  • Spinach: You have a few options when it comes to spinach. Use fresh finely chopped spinach or spinach puree. I have used both and the results are great every time. Make sure you select fresh, vibrant, green spinach without bruises for the best flavor.
  • Spice: Feel free to alter the heat in this dish. Use 2 to 3 chilies to make the palak rice moderately spicy and 1 green chili for a mild heat. I used 3 for this recipe as I enjoy this dish with moderate heat.

FAQ’s

How to get fluffy Palak rice?

Allow cooked rice to stand for some minutes in the cooking pot before you open the lid. If using a pressure cooker then open the lid once all the pressure has fallen naturally on its own. Then gently fluff the rice with a fork. Make sure that your rice to water proportion is correct depending upon the variety of rice you are using. Also preferably use aged basmati rice.

Can I use other type of green leaf for Palak rice?

Palak is the Hindi word for spinach so, if you use other types of greens it will no longer be Palak rice. But you can definitely make this dish with other greens like Amaranth, bathua (chenopodium album), fenugreek leaves. If making with fenugreek leaves I suggest not to puree them but finely chop them. Making fenugreek puree can make the dish bitter.

Is spinach same as Palak?

Yes. Palak is the Hindi word for spinach.

How long does Palak take to cook?

It takes a short amount of time to cook palak. Here you need to stir and saute palak for 4 to 5 minutes and then later cook it with the rice.

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palak rice recipe, spinach rice recipe, palak pulao recipe

Palak Rice (Spinach Rice)

5 from 21 votes
Palak rice, also known as Spinach rice is a healthy variation of pilaf or pulao made with spinach puree, rice, onions, herbs and spices. This delightful recipe is ready in 30 minutes and makes for a nutritious meal when paired with salad, pickle or raita.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Cuisine North Indian
Course: Main Course
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Servings 3
Units

Ingredients

For spinach puree

  • 3 cups roughly chopped spinach (palak) or 1 cup spinach puree
  • 1 to 3 green chilies – chopped
  • 1 inch ginger – chopped
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves – chopped

Other ingredients for spinach rice

  • 1 cup basmati rice or any fragrant or regular rice variety
  • 2 tablespoon oil – any neutral flavor oil
  • 1 tej patta or Indian bay leaf
  • 3 to 4 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1 mace strand – thin single mace strand and not the whole mace
  • 1 small star anise – optional
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 50 grams onion or 1 medium onion thinly sliced or ⅓ cup sliced onions
  • 2 to 3 drops of lemon juice – optional
  • 1 to 1.25 cups water
  • salt as required

Instructions

Preparation

  • Rinse basmati rice till the water runs clear of starch. Then soak the rice grains in enough water for 20 to 30 minutes. Later drain the water and keep the soaked rice aside.
  • When the rice is soaking, rinse the spinach leaves very well and roughly chop them. You will need 3 cups roughly chopped spinach.
  • Now add the spinach leaves in a blender or grinder jar. Also add green chilies, ginger and garlic cloves (all roughly chopped). For a moderatly spicy rice add 2 to 3 green chilies.
  • Blend to a smooth puree. Keep covered aside.

Making palak rice

  • In a pressure cooker, heat oil. 
  • Add the following spices and saute them till they splutter – tej patta, cloves, cinnamon, green cardamoms, mace strand, small star anise and cumin seeds.
  • Next add thinly sliced onions. Stirring often saute the onions till light golden or golden.
  • Add the spinach puree. Stir and saute for 4 to 5 minutes on a low heat.
  • Add the rice and mix rice very well.
  • Add salt as required and water. 1 cup water gives an al dente rice. For a softer texture in the rice you can add 1.25 cups water. I added 1.25 cups water.
  • Stir very well. At this step you can also add a few drops of lemon juice.
  • Cover and pressure cook spinach rice for 8 to 9 minutes or 2 to 3 whistles on medium to medium-high heat.
  • When the pressure falls down in the cooker on its own, then remove the lid and gently fluff the rice.
  • Serve palak rice hot with a side salad or pickle or raita. While serving, if you want you can garnish with some chopped coriander or mint leaves.
  • For some protein you can also add pan-fried tofu or paneer. Garnish the spinach rice with either of these.

Notes

  • For making the spinach rice in a pot or pan or Instant pot, add water accordingly.
  • You can also use frozen spinach. Squeeze all the water from the frozen spinach and blend it with ginger, garlic and green chilies to get 1 cup of spinach puree.
  • For the best texture in the palak rice use aged basmati rice. If you don’t have basmati rice make the dish with any variety of non-sticky fragrant or regular rice.
  • For a richer taste, swap ghee with oil.
  • To add more texture, flavor and nutrition consider veggies like carrots, bell pepper, green peas, cauliflower, french beans and sweet corn kernels.
  • You can make the spinach pulao spicy by adding more green chilies.

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Palak Rice (Spinach Rice)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 347 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Sodium 472mg21%
Potassium 342mg10%
Carbohydrates 58g19%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 2830IU57%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 21mg25%
Vitamin E 5mg33%
Vitamin K 146µg139%
Calcium 80mg8%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 71µg18%
Iron 2mg11%
Magnesium 52mg13%
Phosphorus 105mg11%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Palak Rice recipe post from the archives (first published on January 2016) has been republished and updated on 18 June 2021.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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31 Comments

  1. Love all your recipes. Being an amateur cook having the recipe along with pics help immensely!!

    Thank you!5 stars

    1. thank you vaibhavi. glad to know that the pictures are helpful. the reason i share detailed step by step pictures is so that any person who is even cooking for the first time can make the recipe easily. welcome and happy cooking.

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