Palak Chole (Chickpea and Spinach Curry)

I adore spinach (palak) based curries and, fortunately, there are so many in Punjabi cuisine. We love our chicken palak, mutton palak, palak paneer, saag aloo, and the mother of them all, sarson da saag, which is traditionally made from mustard greens (sarson) blended with a little spinach, but also tastes delicious when made purely from spinach. My mum was travelling through the Punjab the other day and stopped off at a dhaba, following a visit to the beautiful Golden Temple in Amritsar. A dhaba is a rustic roadside restaurant, traditionally found along the highways of Punjab, serving hearty home style cooking; you are guaranteed to find at least one palak based dish at a dhaba! You can now find urban dhabas all over the world (and not a highway in sight), trying to recreate a sense of rustic Punjabi cooking. My mum said that she had delicious palak chole with paronthas at the dhaba and it reminded me of a time I had made this dish for vegetarians alongside a chicken palak dish I was making for the omnivores. It is delicious and a lot less common on Indian menus than the aforementioned palak dishes – and I don’t know why!

Yesterday evening I told my dad I would be making a healthy version of palak chole for lunch today and was met with a less than enthusiastic grunt! Well, he is now resting in an armchair reading the newspaper, looking like the cat that got his cream! He loved it and he knows his palak curries, because he makes excellent chicken and mutton versions himself. Here is my healthy and very tasty version. I made mine from dried chickpeas, which I soaked in water and 1/2 a teaspoon of baking powder overnight (almost 24 hours, actually), rinsed thoroughly, and then pressure cooked for 20 minutes. If you cook them in a standard pot on the stovetop it should take about 1.5-2 hours of simmering. Canned chickpeas will work fine – I know that many of you are pressed for time or…ahem….just can’t be bothered!

Today’s lunch

Palak Chole (serves 4)

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes, Cooking time: 30 minutes (using canned chickpeas, see above for dried chickpeas)


200g dried chickpeas (see above) which will yield about 500g of cooked chickpeas or 2 400g cans, drained and rinsed

2 medium onions (about 150g), finely chopped or minced

250g chopped tomatoes

5 cups (packed tightly) finely chopped spinach or frozen chopped spinach, about 200g

2 tablespoons chopped fresh fenugreek (methi) (optional)

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

3 fat cloves garlic, minced

2 green chillies, slit into halves

1 cinnamon stick

5 cloves

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 ½ teaspoons roasted cumin powder

3 green cardamom pods, seeds crushed into a powder

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

½ -1 teaspoon chilli powder

2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup for vegans

Salt to taste

1½ tablespoons sunflower/olive oil

2 cups (500ml) water (I used the water I boiled the chickpeas in)


Finely chopped fresh spinach, gloriously verdant!

Use a large non-stick wok or pan.

Fry the onions, the cinnamon stick and the cloves in the oil on low-medium heat, stirring
from time to time until the onions caramelise into a medium brown colour. This will take 5-6 minutes. If it browns too quickly, add a tablespoon or 2 of water to slow the process.

Add the tomatoes, ginger, garlic and green chillies and cook for 2-3 minutes, still on
low-medium heat.

Add the spinach, fenugreek (if using), coriander powder, cumin powder, cardamom powder, turmeric, chilli powder and salt and stir well. Add the 2 cups of  water, increase the heat to bring to a boil and then lower it and simmer this  mixture for 15 minutes until most of the water has evaporated and the spinach  and tomatoes have come together into a thick, fragrant curry.

Add the chickpeas and the honey and let it cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust

Serve with rice or chapatis and a tomato and onion salad dressed with lime juice!

Per serving: Calories 321, Protein 15g, Carbohydrate 50g, Sugars 11g, Fat 9g, Saturates 1g, Fibre 13g. A good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Iron and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Folate and Manganese.

This is off to Ricki’s fabulous Wellness Weekend June 7th-12th.

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A forkful of delicious goodness!

14 Replies to “Palak Chole (Chickpea and Spinach Curry)”

  1. Irene

    I came across your wonderful recipe this week and decided to try it out, I am always looking for different vegetarian dishes for my family to change things up a bit. This was so delicious. I put it in a wrap and then grilled it. I served it with a little plum sauce for dipping. I had had a chicken palak served that way at a cafe and decided I needed to make my own at home! This was perfect! Thank you from one grateful Canadian family.

    • justjhoom

      It makes me so happy to read this Irene – so very glad that you all enjoyed it. I like the wrap and plum sauce idea and will be trying it out. Have a lovely weekend. Cheeku

  2. Pingback: Dal Palak Recipe | imexcited

  3. Ashfaq

    Cheeku, you are too kind… seriously I think this is a fantastic project. What could be better than cooking and writing about the food you love… Kaniz and I still have very fond memories of that fantastic meal you cooked for us when you were here. I will definitely try out the recipe although I doubt it will be as good as yours!…

  4. Ashfaq

    Cheeku this looks great… even as big a meat eater as I am, I could devour a few plates of the palak chole…. keep up the fantastic work and thanks for sharing these sumptuous recipes with us…

    • justjhoom

      Ashfaq, thanks so much! You are one of the people who have inspired me when it comes to eating healthy and exercising regularly and enjoying the results it brings! It totally is possible to eat tasty, healthy, Indian food! I hope you try it and enjoy it!




  6. Ronnie B.

    “… looking like the cat that got his cream!”
    HAHAHAHAHAHA. You totally cracked me up, I could just picture dad on the armchair … HAHAHA

    Another fantastic recipe Cheeks, great story telling and fantastic pics. You, my dear sis, are a STAR. I want more and more and more!

    Much love


  7. Binny

    To The Chef…. your Palak & Chhole recipe has made me hungry and my day has only just begun. And not only that: The pictures are making me want to tear my computer screen and eat all. J U S T L I K E T H A T !!! How good is that… Keep it up dear. We want MORE MORE & MORE

    • justjhoom

      Thanks so much Beenu – your support means so much. This is a really easy recipe and you can use all the shortcuts possible – canned chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, frozen chopped spinach – it will take no time at all! I will do my best to create more, more and more healthy but tasty recipes!


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