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Indian Spinach Rice or Palak Pulao Recipe

Simple, nutritious meals that are easy to cook and come together quickly, are my main considerations when I plan to cook something during a weeknight. This thought was on my mind while looking at the crisp bunches of fresh spinach at the grocery store the other day. If you have been following along with me for the past few months, you might know that procuring and cooking whatever is in season is one of my biggest drivers in kitchen. I share local produce guides for every month on may Facebook and Instagram accounts. I guess using whatever is growing locally (or in our garden) brings out the hidden forager in me. Looking at the gorgeous spinach leaves, I thought that sure I could make palak paneer (recipe here) or use them in making palak parantha (recipe here), but I wanted to find a new way to enjoy this beautiful bounty.

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Source: http://ahealthylifeforme.com/seasonal-produce-guide-for-may/

I started thinking about the first time I added chopped spinach to rice and the kids loved it. Since spinach is such a good source of Niacin and Zinc, and a very good source of dietary Fiber, plant based protein, Vitamins A, C, E, B6 and K, Thiamine, Riboflavin, and Folate along with other beneficial minerals, addition of spinach to anything is a no-brainer for me. So I thought of making “Green Rice”, as the kids adorably ended up naming this Spinach Rice dish.

I added whole spices like green cardamom and clove to the rice. These spices add a great flavor and warmth to a dish without making it hot (as in spicy). Moreover, addition of khade masale (or whole spices), make any simple dish stand out. The second genius step was to make this rice in the pressure cooker. I was very skeptical about it, since I have not had much success with cooking rice in a pressure cooker. But I wanted to give it another try. Having not enough time on my side could have been another factor! By all means this rice dish can be made in an open pot.

Palak Pulao

I pureed the spinach with ginger, garlic and green chili so that the rice get a uniform gorgeous green color as opposed to a spotty appearance that we would get with chopped spinach. But if you are running short(er) on time, feel free to just give the spinach a rough chop and proceed. All the power to you. I promise the flavor will still be just as awesome. Make a batch of these rice and enjoy them with a mild curry or daal (like this one) or with a dollop of creamy yogurt (Mr. Little V’s favorite).

palakpulao
4.8 from 15 votes
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Spinach Rice or Palak Pulao

A favorite rice dish, updated with addition of nutritional spinach. Great when served as a side dish or enjoyed with lentils or curries.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

For spinach puree:

  • 4 cups spinach roughly chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 green chili optional
  • 1 clove garlic

For spinach Rice

  • 1 cup long grained basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoon ghee/olive oil
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 1 clove
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1- teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ onion sliced about 1 cup
  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • ½ lime juiced
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Rinse and soak the rice while you get everything else ready.

For spinach puree:

  1. Blend everything together to make a smooth puree. You should have close to 1 cup of puree. (See Notes).

To cook Spinach rice

  1. Set a pressure cooker on medium high heat and add the ghee/olive oil to it. Once the oil is hot and shiny, add the khade masale (whole spices – green cardamom, bay leaf and clove) followed by cumin seeds.
  2. Next, add the sliced onions and sauté them until they turn light golden, about 4-5 minutes. Then add the spinach puree, stir and cook for another five minutes.
  3. Now drain the soaked rice and add to your pressure cooker. Stir the rice around until completely coated with spinach puree. Add 1 ¼ cups of water, lime juice and salt to taste.

  4. Put the lid of the pressure cooker on and lock it in place. Turn the heat to high and wait until the cooker reaches full pressure (or “whistles”). At this point, turn the heat to medium low and cook for 5-6 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat off and wait for the pressure to release by itself. This should not take more than 7-8 minutes. Open the lid and gently fluff the rice a fork.
  6. Serve warm with yogurt or daal.

Recipe Notes

If not making spinach puree, after adding cumin seeds, add minced garlic and chopped green chili (if using), followed by onions. After the onions have browned a bit, add chopped ginger and cook until the raw smell of ginger goes away. Then add chopped spinach and proceed as above. If not using a pressure cooker, add 2 cups of water after adding rice to a big sauce pan or dutch oven. Bring to a boil on high heat, turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

palakpulao

Store the leftovers in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and reheat in the microwave before serving.

Leave a comment below letting me know how you like this recipe.

Love- Vaishali

Tools Used

You can grab some of the tools I used to make this recipe by clicking on the images below.

Spatula

Mixing Bowl

Fork

43 Comments

  1. Julie

    May 22, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    looks super yummy! just pinned it to Pinterest, <3

    1. Vaishali

      May 23, 2018 at 10:29 am

      Thanks Julie. I am glad you liked the recipe.

  2. DANIELLE BRONSON

    May 23, 2018 at 9:19 am

    5 stars
    This looks absolutely delicious. My son has autism and loves anything green! It’s his favorite color I bet if I prepared him this he would gobble it up simply for that reason.

    1. Vaishali

      May 23, 2018 at 10:31 am

      Oh Danielle – Your comment has made my day. I am so happy that you think that your son will like this rice because of the color and also as mommas we can always rejoice that there is hidden nutrition too..:)

  3. Kristina

    July 28, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    5 stars
    I know what I am making when my spinach is ready to harvest!

  4. Jenna

    July 29, 2018 at 1:03 am

    Awesome! I love to find recipes like this… kid friendly, healthy, and could use in many different ways! I pinned it to remind me and look forward to trying it. ❤️

  5. Jen @ Jenron Designs

    July 29, 2018 at 9:46 am

    5 stars
    Yum I love the idea of pureeing the spinach it is almost like making pesto. This sounds great, I cannot wait to try it!

  6. Lesley (makemeupblogs)

    July 29, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    Love a good healthy dish, thank you for sharing!

  7. Jenn

    July 30, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    I’ve always loved his dish when we go out for Indian foods going to have to try!

  8. Brittany

    August 30, 2018 at 1:39 am

    This looks like a fun recipe to make! I also think this looks absolutely delicious!!! YUMMMMMM

  9. Wendy

    August 30, 2018 at 2:44 am

    5 stars
    Looks great to me. I would try it. I love the recipes on your blog will try some of them one day.

  10. Erica D Ardali

    August 30, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    I have never had spinach r ice before. It does look like a fun way to get some veggies in 🙂

  11. Miisha Bangiya

    October 23, 2018 at 9:46 am

    4 stars
    Healthy and innovative. Thanks for sharing <3

  12. Ai | The Wise Budget

    October 23, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! Looks pretty tasty!

  13. Krish

    October 23, 2018 at 11:55 am

    I love green…looks so tempting and yummy…light and healthy..
    Thank you Vaishali

  14. Adaezeboltbethel

    October 23, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    The colour of the food reminds me of basil paste and pasta. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Ritika Sharma

    October 23, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    I’ve been eating spinach rice since my childhood. My mother is a great cook! but her recipe is different to yours! I’ll ask her to try on your recipe this time <3

  16. Not Taught At School

    October 23, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    5 stars
    Great idea!
    A simple yet easy way to get kids to eat more greens! Looks awesome too.

  17. Nina Nichols

    October 23, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    That looks so healthy but I am not sure about trying it. I love veggies but I am not a big fan of spinach. My mother would love this though.

  18. Reika Misaki

    October 23, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    I don’t usually eat rice, but this looks promising! I’d love this!

  19. Puja

    October 24, 2018 at 6:37 am

    4 stars
    This is a good way of hiding spinach and getting kids to eat green vegies. Will try for my son.

  20. Evelyn Hernandez

    October 24, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Love the idea of adding spinach to rice. Great way to sneak veggies into the kids food!

  21. Lauren

    October 24, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    5 stars
    Sounds delicious! Can’t wait to try it.

  22. Monidipa Dutta

    October 24, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    5 stars
    I make palak pulao too but the recipe of ingredients is a bot different. I will try this one too.

  23. christineong

    October 24, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    Everything looks so delish.. love the pictures..,

  24. Hackytips

    October 24, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    I regularly do Spinach rice for lunch. I add vegetables too!

  25. Matija

    October 25, 2018 at 7:02 am

    This looks amazing, I might try to make it one time or another, also might add a few tweaks to it, with supstituting a few spices and some ingredients.

  26. Jeferson

    October 25, 2018 at 8:43 am

    O this is good alternative for Biryani rice….. Less spicy and less oily but more nutritious…..

  27. blair villanueva

    October 28, 2018 at 11:11 pm

    5 stars
    I love rice and we Filipinos believe that “rice is life”!
    I will add this to our many rice recipes.

  28. Sheena Moncatar

    October 29, 2018 at 11:11 pm

    5 stars
    Perfectly palatable. I have never tried it though and would want to have the chance to try the food or the recipe out. I have always been of spinach so I definitely would want it mixed with my rice. As always, rate your recipe 5 STARS!

  29. Dixie D

    November 19, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    4 stars
    I have an Instant Pot LUX 80. I made this recipe twice because I had to make adjustments . I wasn’t able to make a spinach puree, but put the spinach in a food processor until it was very fine. Also, I combined the lime juice and water to equal the same amount of rice, therefor 1 :1 ratio. Finally, I set manual pressure cook for 3 minutes, slow release for 10, then quick release and fork fluff. It was still a bit on the soft/overcooked side, so next time I’ll try a shorter slow release time.
    Hope this is helpful! The recipe is delicious! I’m excited to try this with a paneer masala!

    1. Vaishali

      November 20, 2020 at 2:44 pm

      Hello Dixie D. Thank you so much for trying this recipe in Instant Pot. And now you have gotten me excited to try it in Instant pot and may be update the recipe with time, water quantity etc. I agree, may be a shorter release time might help. Did you use long-grain Basmati or some other kind of rice? Love the idea of pairing it with paneer masala. Bon appetit!!

    1. Vaishali

      October 28, 2021 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks, Mahajayam. I completely agree!

  30. Sarah Ruesch

    January 2, 2023 at 9:16 am

    This was so well organized I will have to make it sometime.

  31. Carrie

    January 2, 2023 at 11:46 am

    This looks delicious. I’ve not made much Indian food, but I really want to try it. This green rice recipe looks fun.

    1. Vaishali

      January 4, 2023 at 8:54 am

      Thanks, Carrie. I hope you enjoy it. Fun and packed with nutrients.

  32. Laurie Griggs

    January 2, 2023 at 7:53 pm

    5 stars
    I love the layer of flavor to add to the rice. I’m will try with brown basmati and the puree with cauliflower rice.

    1. Vaishali

      January 4, 2023 at 8:54 am

      Thanks Laurie. Love the idea of using brown basmati and cauliflower rice!

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