Palak rice pulao is Indian style spinach rice made with basmati rice, fresh spinach, spices and herbs. This iron-rich dish is super quick and easy to make for a quick meal. Mildly spiced yet tastes delicious and uses nothing but pantry staples. It’s a meal in itself and you won’t need any sides. But you may serve it with a raita, kachumber or a vegetable salad to perk up the nutrition of your meal.
Make this palak rice in a pan on the stovetop or in the instant pot with my easy recipe instructions.
About Palak Rice
Palak rice also known as Spinach rice is an Indian dish where cooked rice is mixed with sautéed and spiced spinach and herbs. It is made in numerous ways and this palak rice is a family favorite and is made time and again. It goes well in the office and school boxes too.
In this post I share 2 ways to make this green wholesome goodness. Both the methods use the same ingredients. The first recipe is to puree spinach and saute with spices to flavour it. Then mix it with precooked rice. You are done with it and ready to serve. To make it a complete meal, serve it with chaas, salad and papad.
I prefer this method since palak is sauteed only for few mins retaining most of the nutrients. It is not over cooked as it happens with pressure cooking method.
While the rice cooks, spinach can be cleaned and pureed which saves some time. Potato, sweet corn, baby corn, cauliflower and peas go very well with this method.
More veggies of your choice can be used. I have used only 1 medium potato here. The rice tastes good on its own even without the addition of any veggies.
The second method is a one pot palak rice, where the spices are tempered and then spinach is sautéed. To this rice and water is added and cooked in one go. You can either use a pressure cooker or a pot for this method.
I have used basmati rice but you can use any rice that is not sticky or mushy. If you have precooked rice, then you can just use up to make palak rice following the first method.
You may like to check this link for more rice recipes.
How to Make Palak Rice (Stepwise Pics)
1. Wash, soak and cook 1 cup rice in whatever way you like. For the lunch box, I usually make rice in electric cooker or pressure cooker. If making in pressure cooking, I just cook on medium flame for 1 whistle after soaking for 20 mins.
2. Meanwhile pluck, wash palak in a large pot filled with water. Sprinkle some salt on the palak and rinse well few times. Drain the water. Add them to a blender jar (if desired with green chilies). I used small chutney jar & used about 100 grams spinach. It comes upto 2 cups tightly packed or 3.5 cups loosely measured. I blend half first and then added the other half. You may add few tablespoons water to help blend smooth.
3. Make a fine puree. Set this aside.
Make Palak Rice
4. Heat 1½ tablespoons oil in a pan. Add 1 bay leaf and ½ teaspoon cumin seeds. I also prefer to add a star anise and 2 cardamoms. These are optional. When the cumin begins to sizzle, add the 2 chopped garlic cloves and 1 to 2 slit green chilies. Saute until the garlic turns fragrant for 30 to 40 seconds.
5. Add 1 small sliced onion and fry them until until slightly golden or pink.
6. This step is optional. Add 1 medium potato finely chopped. Or any other veggies you like. Fry until they are cooked completely. If needed cover and cook or sprinkle some water to help them cook. Ensure you chop the potatoes very fine.
7. Add ½ to ¾ teaspoon garam masala, 1/8 teaspoon turmeric and ½ teaspoon salt.
8. Saute everything well.
9. Add the palak puree.
10. Saute until the raw smell goes off. Add 10 to 12 chopped mint leaves or few coriander leaves. Do not skip the herbs here. They add a good flavor. Saute for 2 mins. Turn off the stove.
11. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Spinach is high in iron. The absorption of iron is good when lemon juice or any vitamin C ingredient is used. If you do not have you can skip it.
12. Mix everything well. Taste test and add more salt if needed.
Serve palak rice with some salad.
Instant Pot Palak Rice
- Soak 1 cup basmati rice for 30 mins and later drain it. I use the chopped palak here. Rinse,drain and chop spinach very finely.
- Press SAUTE button on the Instant pot and pour 1.5 tbsps ghee or oil to the steel insert.
- Then add half tsp cumin and 1 bay leaf. When they splutter, add onions and green chilli. Saute for 2 mins until transparent.
- Next stir in the ginger garlic. Let it fry for 30 seconds.
- Then add potatoes, mint leaves and spinach. Saute until the leaves wilt.
- Add salt, turmeric and garam masala. Press CANCEL button. Pour 1¼ cups water and deglaze the pot by scrubbing the bottom.
- Drain water from the rice completely and add it to the pot. Give a good mix.
- Secure the instant pot with the lid and position the steam release handle to sealing.
- Press PRESSURE COOK button and set the timer to 5 mins. Instant pot will beep when the rice is done.
- Let the pressure release naturally for 3 to 4 mins and then release the rest manually by moving the steam release value from sealing to venting.
- Fluff up the rice with a fork. Cool down slightly and squeeze in the lemon juice. Serve palak rice with raita.
Palak Rice Recipe | Indian Spinach Rice
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 cup rice uncooked (basmati for instant pot)
- 1½ tablespoon oil or ghee
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 small bay leaf or curry leaves
- 2 cups spinach (palak) (tightly packed about 100 grams leaves)
- 2 green chilies slit or chopped
- 2 garlic cloves chopped or 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 small onion sliced
- 1 medium potato (optional) or ½ cup sweet corn or ½ cup carrot chopped
- ½ to ¾ garam masala (adjust to taste)
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 10 to 12 mint leaves or coriander leaves (fine chopped)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice for serving (adjust to taste)
- Rinse rice and cook in a pot or cooker. Rice must be grainy and not mushy.
- Wash palak thoroughly in lots of water. Drain completely. Add them to a small blender and puree to a smooth paste. You can also add few tablespoons of water to help blend smooth or alternately fine chop and use.
Method 1 – Make Palak Rice
- Heat a pan with oil, add cumin seeds and bay leaf.
- When the cumin begins to sizzle, add garlic & saute until it turns fragrant for about 40 to 60 seconds.
- Add onion and green chilli . Saute until the onions turn golden.
- Then add potatoes. Saute until they become tender. If needed sprinkle some water and cook.
- Sprinkle garam masala, salt and turmeric. Pour palak puree and saute until the raw smell goes off.
- Add mint leaves and saute for a min or two. Switch off the stove.
- Transfer the cooled rice, squeeze in the lemon juice. Mix everything well. Taste test and add more salt if needed
- Serve palak rice hot or warm.
Method 2 – One pot Spinach Rice
- Heat oil in a pot. Add cumin and bay leaf. When the cumin sizzles, saute ginger garlic paste.
- Then add onions and green chilies. Fry until transparent. Add potatoes or any other veggies you intend to use. Stir fry for 2 to 3 mins.
- Stir in the garam masala, salt and turmeric. Transfer the pureed palak and saute until the raw smell goes away.
- When the mixture turns thicker, add uncooked rice.
- If using pressure cooker, pour 1¾ cups water for basmati rice. (2 cups if using normal rice). If cooking in a pot use 2 cups water.
- Pressure cook on a medium high flame for 1 whistle for basmati rice. If using normal rice pressure cook for 2 whistles.
- Release the pressure manually with the help of a spatula if using basmati rice.
- Fluff up palak rice with a fork.
- I have tested the instant pot palak rice with basmati rice. You don’t need to blend the spinach, chop finely and use. Instructions included above the recipe card.
- Star anise can also be added to the tempering along with bay leaf and cumin.
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
This recipe is from the Archives. First published in December 2015. Updated and republished in November 2021.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
Follow Swasthi’s Recipes