Palak chole is a delicious North Indian curry made with fresh spinach leaves and chickpeas. It is hearty, vegan, gluten-free and very nutritious. Palak chole is very similar to palak paneer, however I don't add any dairy to it. With autumn on its way, with a warm bowl of cumin rice or rotes, it makes for a warming dinner.
During winters, a ton of greens were harvested from the vegetable garden at my grandma and I grew up eating palak paneer or palak rotis every other day. Spinach sauces are my favorite and when my kids were babies, I started making them often for their high nutritious value. Palak chole wasn't a frequent from my childhood years but since both my kids love the spinach sauce, I add different proteins other than paneer to change up the taste.
Making palak chole is really simple and you can prepare ahead like boiling the chickpeas or blanching and pureeing the spinach a day ahead. And yes! you can totally use canned chickpeas! For the curry, simply make a onion-tomato- ginger masala base with a few whole spices and cook the spinach and chickpeas in it.
How to make Palak Chole?
The process starts with making spinach puree and boiling the chickpeas. Thereafter make a masala base and cook the spinach and chickpeas together for about 20-30 minutes.
1- Spinach:- For making palak chole, I choose cooking spinach variety. The leaves of cooking spinach are much broader and thick as compared to baby spinach. It is easily available in the greens aisle of the store and is usually sold as a bunch.(I have seen bagged ones too) You can choose baby spinach as well but I personally feel that the thicker stems and the large cooking spinach leaves are much flavorful and can stand up to the sautéing.
2- Chickpeas:- Soaking and boiling the raw chickpeas gives the best broth which makes this curry so delicious, however if you want, you can used canned chickpeas as well.
3:- Masala Base:- The curry uses a simple North Indian onion tomato masala base with a few whole spices thrown in, similar how what I have shared many times in recipes on the blog. Most North Indian curries have a starting point as onion-tomato-ginger-garlic base comparable to a sofrito. In this recipe I add, cinnamon, cloves and few pods of green cardamom to add warmth to the spinach sauce.
4:- The secret ingredient :- A few florets of broccoli. I like adding a few, just 3 or4 florets of broccoli to the spinach sauce, you won't taste it, I promise. You can boil the broccoli along with the spinach and puree them together. I feel it adds a very nice texture and robustness to the sauce. Again it is optional and you can skip broccoli.
5. Consistency :- The stock from boiling the chickpeas is very delicious and I use it up for blending the spinach as well as to thin out the sauce. You can make the sauce as runny or thick as you like.
6. Green color of Spinach Sauce :- Over the years, I have seen many discussions about the color of spinach sauce and read many articles on how to preserve it etc etc. If you ask me, there is no right or wrong. The color of the sauce is simply dependent on how long you sauté the spinach puree with the masala base. I personally like the sauce to be well sautéed and even though it loses the bright green color in the process, I love the deep smoky flavor that comes along.
This is a healthy and nutritious dish due to combination of spinach greens and chickpeas and with rice or rotis, it is an enjoyable dinner. As with most curries, the spinach sauce tastes very good next day because the flavors get a chance to absorb as the curry rests overnight. Since I keep the consistency of palak chole curry on a thick side, it can be used to make wraps or easily packed in lunch boxes.
Other Spinach Recipes to check out :-
- ⅓ cup raw chickpeas
- 8 oz organic spinach
- 4-5 small broccoli florets , optional
- 2 cups water
- 2 clove
- 4 tablespoon mustard oil (or cooking oil)
- ½ cup finely chopped onions
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 2 green cardamom cloves
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed in mortar pestle
- ½ tablespoon ginger julinnes
- ¾ cup tomatoes, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 2-3 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance) , slit
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, optional but recommended)
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
Prepare the Spinach & Chickpeas. This can be a done a day in advance.
- Soak the chickpeas overnight. Next morning, add to a pressure cooker with 1.5 cup water, ½ teaspoon oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Pressure cook for 4-5 whistles until soft. Reserve the stock and place the boiled chickpeas in a separate bowl.⅓ cup raw chickpeas
- In a large pot, add cloves to 2 cups water and set on stove to boil. Thoroughly wash the spinach leaves. Roughly chop the stems and leaves if they are too big. If you feel that few stems are too stringy, discard.Once the water is boiling, add spinach and broccoli florets to it. Let cook for 3-4 minutes until the spinach has wilted and the broccoli is dark green in color.8 oz organic spinach, 4-5 small broccoli florets, 2 cups water, 2 clove
- Drain the vegetables and add to a food processor. Put in the cloves too. Pulse. I do not like to make a smooth puree however you can blend to desired texture/consistency. If needed, the reserved chickpea liquid be used liquid while blending.Set the blended spinach aside.
Cook Palak Chole
- Heat up oil on high in a kadai or medium heavy bottomed pot.Once the oil is smoky, reduce the heat to medium & wait for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped onions to it along with fennel & cumin seeds and whole spices (in that order) and sauté till the onions start to lightly brown.4 tablespoon mustard oil (or cooking oil), ½ cup finely chopped onions, ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 2 green cardamom cloves, 1 inch cinnamon stick
- Next add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, coriander powder, green chillies and sugar, to the onions and keep on cooking on medium low heat till you see oil separating on the sides of the pot. The tomatoes will soften and turn mushy.This may take 5-8 minutes.3 garlic cloves, smashed in mortar pestle, ¾ cup tomatoes, finely chopped, ¼ teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, 2-3 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
- Add the spinach, ginger, and chickpeas along with salt to the and mix well. Sauté with masala for 5-7 minutes until you see that the spinach is bubbly.⅓ cup raw chickpeas, 8 oz organic spinach, ½ tablespoon ginger julinnes, 4-5 small broccoli florets
- Reduce the heat to low, add the reserved chickpea stock depending on the consistency of the sauce you like (I add about ½ cup). Mix well. Taste and adjust the salt if needed. Cover and let the sauce cook for 20-25 minutes on low heat.1 teaspoon salt
- Check once or twice in between. The spinach will bubble a lot during cooking and you will need to stir it in between to avoid sticking to bottom. Also the spinach will change color to dull green and you will start seeing glisten on the sides of the pot. If you feel that the sauce is getting dry, add ¼ cup stock.
- Finish with kasuri methi and ¼ teaspoon garam masala(optional). Let sit for 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm.1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, optional but recommended), ¼ teaspoon garam masala (optional)