Indian creamed spinach, also known as malai palak, calls for spinach, onions, cumin seeds, garlic, ginger, chiles, turmeric, and cream. The recipe, from the renowned restaurant Rasika, is a quick weeknight winner of a dinner.
Indian Creamed Spinach | Malai Palak
- Quick Glance
- 50 M
- 1 H
- Serves 4 to 6
Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add half the spinach to the boiling water, stirring well until it wilts, about 15 seconds. Using a spider strainer or mesh spoon, transfer the spinach to the ice water and repeat the blanching process with the remaining the spinach.
Drain the spinach well and transfer it to a blender. Add 1 cup water and blend into a fine, bright green puree.
In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, warm the oil until it shimmers. Add the cumin seeds and garlic and sizzle until the garlic browns, about 30 seconds. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. (The garlic will make the onions look browner than they really are.)
Stir in the ginger, green chili, and turmeric and cook for 30 seconds. Add the spinach puree and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Be careful; it will sputter like bubbling lava.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the cream, salt, and fenugreek leaf powder. Return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Variation on Malai Palak
To make palak paneer, simply add 2 cups cubed paneer (a 12-ounce package) along with the cream, salt, and fenugreek leaf powder in step 5.
To make aloo palak, simply add 2 cups cooked potatoes cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) cubes along with the cream, salt, and fenugreek leaf powder in step 5.
Recipe Testers' Tips
It was wonderful to make this Indian creamed spinach in my own kitchen, as I very often order it at Indian restaurants. Cumin seeds, onions, garlic, and ginger—all heavy hitters in fabulous flavor and aroma—really come through in the gorgeously colorful dish. It’s rich tasting but pleasantly light with just 1/4 cup cream. You and your guests will keep reaching for the serving spoon for more.
To make this an even quicker weeknight dinner, I used pre-washed baby spinach and blanched and puréed it the day before with an immersion blender right in the bowl—then I just covered and refrigerated. Easy peasy. I decided to make the variation with paneer as I had never cooked with it, and I’m so glad I tried. It was delicious, and the cheese made the dish heartier.
The variation, palak paneer, is one of my favorites when eating at an Indian restaurant, so I was very excited to give this a try. I was really pleased at how easy it is to prepare and absolutely beautiful to serve. The results of the "wilting" are immediate and present a lovely, dark green color. Overall this was easy to prepare, delicious, and beautiful.