Palak pakoda are delicious Indian spinach fritters made with fresh spinach leaves, gram flour, spices and herbs. These spinach pakora make for a great tea-time snack & can be served with Indian masala chai or with a chutney. ‘Palak’ is the Hindi word for ‘spinach’ and pakora are Indian gram flour fritters. There are so many kinds of fritters made in India like bajji, bonda, vada etc. But pakoras are the king of all these fritters as they are super easy to make.
These are also popular on the street carts, shops, cafes and restaurants. Most households also make these often. We make pakoras with so many different ingredients like just with onions, just with lentils, with paneer, with bread etc. So these palak pakoda are one of the kind and they turn out crisp, addictive and delicious.
These spinach pakoras are a great way to use up any excess spinach that’s in your fridge. We mostly eat healthy at home and don’t prefer to deep fry or even over cook our greens. But these palak pakodas happen sometimes when we have a lot of spinach and it’s not too fresh to make anything else.
About this recipe
This spinach pakora recipe uses gram flour, carom seeds, onions, few herbs and some more spices. Palak is a super light leafy green so I prefer to use onions as they add volume to the pakora batter. Also fried onions impart a great flavor, taste and texture to the fritters.
For a nutty taste, I also add some split cashews. These are optional and can be skipped. I make these the same way I make these crispy Onion pakoda
If you don’t eat onions then you may simply replace them with sliced cabbage or even with mix vegetables. I have similar recipes here – cabbage pakora and Vegetable pakora but these 2 recipes have no palak in them. To make onion palak pakoda, you can simply use any of those recipes and just add as much palak as you want.
2 ways to make
Basically there are 2 ways to make pakoda with leafy greens. I have shown the first method here where all the ingredients are mixed. Portions of this is fried in hot oil until crunchy.
We follow the second method when we have firm, mature, crisp and very fresh leaves. With this method we make pakoda/ bajji with spinach, betel leaves or vaamu aaku /carom leaves.
The whole leaf is dipped in the bajji batter and fried in hot oil similar to these Bread pakora. These kind of fritters are very popular in the Telugu speaking households.
In this post I have shown the first method. These are best if deep fried and don’t turn out good in the air fryer or oven.
These palak pakoras like any other fritters are best served immediately and hot. They will lose their crispness as they cool down. However they can be reheated by refrying or air frying or baking in oven.
To crisp them in the oven, bake for 5 to 6 mins at 220 C in a preheated oven. In the air fryer it just takes 2 mins. If you overdo they will burn or taste bitter.
How to make palak pakoda
1. Pluck and rinse spinach leaves (not stalks) in a large pot of water. Drain the water and repeat rinsing a few times. Drain them to a colander. Shake off the colander in your kitchen sink to drain excess water completely. Set this aside & slice the onion. I used about 2 ½ cups of chopped spinach. You can use more or less as much as you have.
2. Meanwhile slice 1 large onion (1 cup slices). Slice them evenly and not too thin or too thick. If the slices are too thin pakoras will burn quickly before the besan fries. If they are too thick pakoras won’t turn crispy. You will have soft onions in your palak pakora. Add chopped spinach and sliced onions to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle salt over the onions.
3. Add 2 to 3 chopped green chilies, handful of mint leaves and coriander leaves. Skip if you don’t have mint leaves. But they make your palak pakoda super flavorful.
4. The add ½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste or 1 teaspoon fine chopped ginger, ½ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain), ½ teaspoon red chilli powder and ¼ teaspoon garam masala or ½ teaspoon coriander powder.
5. Mix all of these well gently without crushing the palak. Set this aside for 10 mins. Meanwhile you can make your chutney or tea to with these fritters.
6. After 10 mins, begin to heat the oil on a medium heat & then make the pakora mixture.
7. To the bowl, sprinkle ½ cup gram flour & 2 tablespoons rice flour.
8. Mix to make a slightly tight but moist dough. If the mixture is too dry, sprinkle water and mix. Do not pour water, just sprinkle as we don’t want a lot of moisture in the mixture. If you feel there is not enough flour in your mixture add more in the same proportions. The amount of water to use depends on how much moisture the onions and spinach will release.
9. Taste test at this stage and add more salt if needed. Also add 6 to 10 cashew nuts. Split them and use. You can also break them to small pieces.
Frying spinach pakora
10. Before frying ensure the oil is hot enough. Check by dropping a small portion of the mixture in the oil. It has to sizzle and rise without browning a lot. If it does it means the temperature is right. It won’t rise but will sink if the oil is not hot enough.
11. Ensure the temperature is right & the flame is medium. Then take small portions of this mixture and drop gently to the oil.
12. Do not disturb them immediately. Wait for a minute or so then stir and fry them until crisp. Remove the palak pakoda to a steel colander.
Serve palak pakoda hot or warm with tea.
Taste gram flour before using: Ensure you use good quality gram flour/besan. Store bought flour goes rancid too quickly & turns bitter within a few months even when it is within the shelf life. So always taste test it before using in the recipe.
Rice flour or semolina or corn starch: Basically pakoras are always made with gram flour/ besan. A small amount of rice flour is used to make them extra crisp. If you do not have rice flour you may use fine semolina or corn starch for that great texture.
Gram flour is the basic flour used to make spinach pakoras. However you can also use wheat flour but the taste will be different and will have a nutty flavour.
Onions have to be sliced evenly so they fry evenly without burning or under cooking. You can substitute onions with cabbage.
Consistency of the spinach pakora mixture has to be thick like dough and not like batter. This is what gives them the crisp texture. If you want soft palak pakoda instead of crisp ones, sprinkle more water while you mix the ingredients and make make a slightly loose batter. Also note that loose batter makes oily pakoras.
Fry the pakoras only when the oil is hot enough. If you fry in oil that is not hot enough they will soak up oil. If you fry them in extremely hot oil they will brown quickly on the outside without cooking inside.
Fry spinach pakoras on a medium flame. Frying them on low flame will make them hard
Palak pakoda (Spinach pakora)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 2½ cups spinach (palak)
- 1 cup onions sliced
- 2 to 3 green chilies chopped
- ½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste (or 1 teaspoon chopped ginger)
- ¼ cup mint (pudina & coriander leaves)
- ⅓ teaspoon salt (more to adjust)
- ½ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
- ½ cup besan (gram flour) (2 tbsps more if needed)
- 2 tablespoon rice flour (1 tbsp more if needed)
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
- ¼½ teaspoon garam masala
- Oil for deep frying
Preparation for spinach pakora
- Rinse spinach leaves in lots of water a few times and drain them. I do not use the stalks of spinach as they can taste bitter after frying. Leave them in a colander for some time until you prepare the other ingredients.
- Slice onion, chop green chilies, mint and coriander leaves. If using ginger fine chop it.
- Chop spinach and add to a bowl along with sliced onions. Sprinkle 1/3 teaspoon salt. Add carom seeds, red chilli powder, garam masala, ginger garlic or ginger, green chilies, mint and coriander leaves. Mix all of them gently and set aside for 10 mins.
- Then pour oil to a deep pan and heat it on a medium flame.
- Meanwhile add besan and rice flour. Begin to mix to form a slightly tight but moist dough. If the mixture crumbles sprinkle some water and mix. If you feel there is not enough flour add more flour in the same proportions.
- The mixture has to be moist, yet stiff and not loose or runny like batter.
Making palak pakoda
- When the oil is hot, test if it is hot enough by dropping a small portion of palak pakoda mixture to the oil. If the oil is of right temperature, it will rise without browning a lot. If it sinks it means the oil is not hot enough.
- Regulate the flame to medium. Take small portions of the mixture and gently drop them to hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan. Do not disturb them for a minute.
- When the spinach pakoras become firm stir them and fry until crisp and golden. Remove them to a steel colander.
- To fry the next batch, ensure the oil is hot enough but not very hot. Fry all of the mixture to palak pakoda and serve them hot with chutney or masala chai.
- Carom seeds help in digestion. If you do not like you may skip them.
- Taste the gram flour before making the dough. Sometimes store bought flour tastes rancid and bitter though it is within the shelf life.
- Rice flour is used to make the palak pakoda crispy. It can be substituted with fine semolina or corn starch. Skipping the rice flour won’t make very crisp fritters.
- Besan is the main ingredient that makes your palak pakodas aromatic. But it can be substituted with wheat flour but the taste will be different.
- Slice the onions evenly as this helps them to fry and crisp evenly.
- The consistency of the mixture should be like onion pakora dough, a stiff yet moist dough and not batter.
- To make soft palak pakoda use more water to make the batter. Note that loose batter makes oily pakoras.
- Frying the dough in oil that is not hot enough will yield oily pakoras. Extremely hot oil will brown them quickly on the outside without cooking inside.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Palak pakora recipe first published in September 2016. Updated & republished in January 2021.