Chicken Palak

Chicken Palak with Wheat Naan.

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Everyone knows spinach is quite the Olympian of vegetables. Stop anyone on the street and they’ll tell you” “The popeye vegetable? Oh yeah, everyone should have some..” Try telling that to a kid who is bent on skirting around the meal without ever touching a sliver of vegetable. I’ve been there…not as the kid but as the mother of the vegetably-challenged kid. I don’t try to reason anymore. I resort to "sneakery" and deceit. There are many ways to do it and sometimes I get caught. But not this dish. Even though, it all green…she eats it all up and then asks for some more. If you ask me, I think she has willingly suspended belief (or the suspension of disbelief ?) because it’s so irresistibly tasty.

So what’s this dish? It is none other than a north Indian favorite—Chicken Palak (some call it Palak Chicken). The star of this dish is spinach (hence Palak, meaning spinach) and the rest are just there as supporting roles—the spices and the meat—they’re just there for the applause. When I first had this dish at an Indian restaurant, I loved it right away. A good thing since this dish is nutritious and low in fat and calories. Now, that my daughter loves it as well, it's became quite a staple in my family. With time, I’ve put my own spin to make it more friendly to the needs of my family but the essentials remain quite the same.

I Made Some Adaptations

There are a number of key ingredients in a typical chicken palak dish. Spinach is indispensible. The spices used are important too. A purist would insist on making their own garam masala for this dish. Garam masala is a blend of various spices and it differs according to the dish or the preference of the cook. Typical spices include black and white peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, cumin and cardamom pods. The purpose of garam masala is to impart flavors and intensity to the dish. To make it easier for myself, I decided to use curry powder to substitute for garam masala since curry powder contains most of the spices mentioned and I can skip the task of blending the spices. Alternatively, you can add ground spices--just scoop and add.

Chicken Palak also employs some accompanying vegetables to enhace the flavor. I've seen a variety of vegetables used from tomatoes to fenugreek green to bitter gourd. I’ve found success with mint and cilantro. Some cooks use curd or heavy cream. I prefer yogurt.

These adaptations are not major but they reflect my preferences and still maintain the integrity of the dish.

5 stars from 3 ratings of Chicken Palak

Cook Time

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 25 min
Ready in: 45 min
Yields: 4 servings
Chopped garlic and ginger, cilantro, mint and green chilies add flavor and spice.
Chopped garlic and ginger, cilantro, mint and green chilies add flavor and spice. | Source
Curry powder and yogurt.  You may use non-fat/low-fat yogurt if you're watching calories.
Curry powder and yogurt. You may use non-fat/low-fat yogurt if you're watching calories.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch spinach, washed thoroughly and drained.
  • 1 thumb of ginger, minced
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 to 3 sprigs of mint
  • 2 to 3 sprigs of cilantro
  • 3 small green chilies, (more if you prefer it spicer)
  • 1 heaping tbs curry powder
  • 1/4 cup of yogurt
  • 2 pieces of chicken breasts, diced or cubed.
  • salt, to taste
  • Cayenne Pepper, (if desired, for more heat)

Note: You may also subsitute chicken for tofu or paneer, a delicious Indian cheese. Instead of letting it simmer like chicken, add tofu or paneer cubes towards the end of the cooking time, just before you dish it out. I've tried tofu and paneer cheese (dish is called Palak Paneer) and they taste just as delicious.

Sautee ginger and garlic until fragrant, then add diced chicken and curry powder. This is also a good time to flavor it with some salt and cayenne pepper (if desired).
Sautee ginger and garlic until fragrant, then add diced chicken and curry powder. This is also a good time to flavor it with some salt and cayenne pepper (if desired).
Add blended greens and bring to a simmer.
Add blended greens and bring to a simmer.

Instructions

  1. Chop garlic and ginger until fine.
  2. Wash chicken and cut chicken into cubes or bite-sizes.
  3. Blend spinach, mint, cilantro and green chilies. Set aside.
  4. Add enough oil to coat pan.
  5. Once pan is heated up, add chopped garlic and ginger and sautee until it's fragrant.
  6. Add diced chicken and curry powder. Season with salt. Add cayenne peper if desired. Sautee chicken until well-coated.
  7. Add blended spinach, mint, cilantro and green chilies.
  8. Mix well and let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  9. Add yogurt, mix well and adjust taste if needed. Dish it out once it boils.
  10. Serve warm with basmatic rice, roti paratha, Lavash bread, Naan or papadums.
Scoop it up with a papadum, add it to rice or smear it on roti or spread it on lavash bread. There are so many fun ways to enjoy it.
Scoop it up with a papadum, add it to rice or smear it on roti or spread it on lavash bread. There are so many fun ways to enjoy it. | Source
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 serving
Calories 154
Calories from Fat36
% Daily Value *
Fat 4 g6%
Saturated fat 3 g15%
Unsaturated fat 3 g
Carbohydrates 11 g4%
Fiber 3 g12%
Protein 27 g54%
Cholesterol 44 mg15%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Is Spinach Good for You?

Is spinach all that's hyped up to be? Mothers push it. Health experts recommend it. What's the take? Let's take a look at the nutritional facts of spinach, provided by the USDA (adapted). You be the judge.

Nutritional profile of 1 cup of spinach (30g)

Amounts Per serving
 
%DV
Calories
7
 
Calories from fat
1
 
Fiber
0.7g
3%
Vitamin A
2812 IU
56%
Vitamin C
8.4 mg
14%
Vitamin D
~
~
Vitamin K
145 mcg
181%
Folate
58.2 mcg
15%
Calcium
29.7 mg
3%
Iron
0.8 mg
5%
Phosphorus
14.7 mg
1%
Potassium
167 mg
5%
Cholesterol
0.0 mg
0%
Water
27.4 g
 

Health Benefits of Spinach

As you can see, spinach has a lot going. Low in calories, high in nutrients and vitamins, spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods. Various studies reveal a number of health benefits associated with spinach:

  • High in Antioxidants

According to Mayo clinic, spinach is one of the vegetables with the highest antioxidant content. The virtue of antioxidants cannot be over-stressed. It arrests cellular damage caused by free radicals. Various types of cancer, premature aging and cardiovascular diseases have been linked to oxidative effects of free radicals. Consuming foods with antioxidants help to reduce such risks.

  • Rich in Carotenoids

Carotenoids belong to a group of phytonutrients that gives plants their brilliant colors. The characteristic dark green of spinach is due to the presence of beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin (all carotenoids) and they promote vision health by protecting against age-related macular degeneration and night blindness.

  • Rich in nutrients

A quick glance at the nutritional profile of spinach reveals that spinach is high in calcium, potassium and vitamin K. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, these nutrients may reduce risks of osteoporosis.

  • Rich in Folate

Folate (water-soluble vitamin B) is needed to produce and maintain new cells, make DNA and generate normal red blood cells, according to the National Institute of Health. No wonder doctors often advise pregnant women and growing children to ensure adequate intake of folate. In addition, folate also reduces levels of homocysteine, a chemical associated with heart disease. Including spinach in your diet is one way to increase folate intake.

Have you ever had Chicken Palak or Palak Paneer?

  • Yes, love it.
  • Yes, don't care for it.
  • No, would like to try it.
  • No, don't care if I try it.
See results without voting

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Comments 23 comments

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Thanks much for this palek chicken recipe. It was interesting to learn about it--I think I can do it!


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 4 years ago from United States

I think I can do it as well! Great recipe, Anglnwu!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

I have not had Palek Chicken but it sounds simple enough to make and also sounds delicious and healthy for one. Will be giving it a try soon! Thanks! Voted useful and interesting.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

i have had this with chilled pine apple


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Rtalloni, thanks for your comments. I'm sure you can. Enjoy.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

This is a new recipe idea for me. It does have all the spices I love. I may step out and try it soon.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Yes, you can, Dexter! Always good to hear from you. Take care.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Peggy, good to see you here. Thanks for the vote up. It's very delicous and healthy--may not look as nice but trust me, it's very yummy.


Petra Vlah profile image

Petra Vlah 4 years ago from Los Angeles

I do love spinach and I eat it often cooked in different way or just fresh in salads. For chicken I don't care much especially because of the hormones they use to grow chicken fast so I may not try this particular dish, but I thank you for the statistics


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Mhatter, thanks for commenting. Did you like it?

Teaches, yay, step up and try it. Let me know if you like it. Thanks for reading and commenting.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Petrah, good to see you here. If you don't like chicken, thanfkully, this dish works well with tofu and paneer cheese as well. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

YUM! This is one of my favorite things to order in an Indian restaurant. Now I can try making it myself. I feel like you wrote this for ME hehehe.....


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Om, wow, I can read your mind! Yes, my favorite too. Thanks for your comments.


ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 4 years ago from Chennai, India

Wow! A delicious non-vegetarian version of Paneer Palak which is one of my favorite dishes! I am a big fan of spinach and relished spinach based dishes, including paneer palak. I ate paneer palak only at hotels but yet to know the homemade recipe. Thanks to your well-explained instructions & yummy-looking photos, I would like to try this tasty and easy-to-make recipe - both chicken palak & paneer palak soon and eat it with naan. Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Awesome. Voted up & Socially Shared


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

ishwaryaa, I love paneer palak. In fact, I like that first but later, substituted paneer for chicken whenever I can't find paneer. I've always been a great fan of Indian food and making it myself means I can eat it whenever. Thanks for adding to this hub with your wonderful comments. Appreciate the share too.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

anglnwu, palak chicken is one of my favorite dishes. Thanks for sharing this recipe with those who are not aware of it. I'll do my bit and share this hub.

Voted up, useful and interesting.


articlesocean profile image

articlesocean 4 years ago from London, United Kingdom

This is a great dish, I usually make Palak with mutton, I haven't tasted it with chicken. But Palak Paneer is my favorite :) .


Anamika S profile image

Anamika S 4 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

This is one of my favorite dishes too! Voted up as useful and rated.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

rajan, so good to see you here. Thanks for reading and sharing--much appreciate that.

articlesocean, hmmm..I've yet to try mutton palak. I bet it's delicious. In general, I love Indian food! Thanks for commenting.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Anamika, my favorite too. Simply loves it. Thanks for reading and commenting.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Vespawoolf, since you're such a wonderful cook, I would recommend blending your own spices --they taste way better. Sometimes, I add a touch of sugar to balance the spices. As for fresh cheese in Peru, I think as long as they don't melt (like regular cheese in heat), it may make a good subsitute. Paneer is quite like tofu. Let me know if Peru cheese works, I'm just as curious. Thanks again for checking back.


beingwell profile image

beingwell 4 years ago from Bangkok

Shared and voted up!

I love spinach recipes. Will try this without the curry... I wonder how it would go...


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

being well, thanks for dropping by to comment. If you thinking of leaving out the curry, you may want to include cumin and green chilies for sure. I've made it without curry and it's pretty good.

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