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Ginger-Chili Spinach Rice (Palak Pulao)

4 to 6 Servings

50 minutes 20 minutes active

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To make this vibrant Indian dish, called palak pulao, basmati rice is cooked in a ginger, garlic and chili-spiked spinach puree. Additional layers of complexity come from aromatics and spices that are sizzled in hot fat to bloom their flavors. We prefer to use ghee—the nutty-tasting clarified butter used frequently in Indian cuisine—but neutral oil works well, too. Unrelated to curry powder, curry leaves resemble fresh bay. Sold fresh or frozen in Indian grocery stores, they have an aroma and flavor that are wholly unique. There’s no substitute, but if you can’t find curry leaves, don’t worry—the rice is delicious even without.

4 to 6



Don’t add all of the spinach puree to the spices and onion in the pot. Add only ¾ cup. You will have about ¼ cup left for stirring into the rice after cooking, which adds a burst of bright, fresh flavor.

50 minutes

20 minutes active


  • 1
    5-ounce container baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2
    medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled


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Robin B.
January 16, 2024
With a few tweaks ...
The water ratio can't possibly be correct for 1.5 c of rice. I used 2 cups of water and it was till a tad dry - if I make it again, I'll try 2 1/4 c. of water. Another reviewer suggested more cumin so I added 1/2 tsp. of cumin powder. I think the recipe is interesting and flavorful, and certainly pretty. I served in big bowls with black beans, slaw, salad and avocado. I put a splash of orange-flavored white balsamic vinegar in each bowl, which added a sweetness that elevated the flavors.
Joel P.
April 9, 2023
Made as written, removing the serrano seeds. A good side, tasty but not spicy or overly assertive. Served with some chana masala.
Maureen D.
January 11, 2023
Great Method, Would Make Some Adjustments
I followed the recipe exactly as written, including using frozen curry leaves. Will definitely make again but will add more cumin and more salt; may add less Serrano and/or use another, fruiter pepper; will double or triple the yogurt recipe, adding more lemon juice and a dash of salt. This was a very good recipe but I feel it needs a touch of sweetness somewhere to balance.
Nadya B.
December 26, 2022
Not enough water to cook the rice
The recipe sounded amazing. I followed it precisely, even though I thought that 1 1/4 cups of water for 1 1/2 cups of rinsed and drained basmati rice might not be enough to result in cooked, fluffy rice. It wasn’t. I had to add more to the pot after the original liquid had evaporated. It tasted good, but next time I’ll add a bit more water.