Palak Makhani Recipe (2024)

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Palak Makhani or “Butter Spinach” is a simple Makhani recipe made with fresh spinach in a creamy sauce with tomatoes and Indian spices

How much do I love Indian food? Let me count the ways!

I have been fortunate to have tried cuisines from all over the world. Living in NY gave me that privilege and I got to absorb food techniques from all over the world.

Indian food, however, remains near and dear to my soul. I have a love for it that I just can’t express.

Its built into every fiber of my being.

Palak Makhani Recipe (1)

Tips for Making this This Palak Makhani

  • Use baby spinach for making this palak makhani because it will cook faster
  • If you have time, roast one small red pepper, remove its skin and puree it with tomato sauce before adding to the pan. It will give the makhani a delicious, smoky flavor
  • To make this vegan, use full fat coconut milk instead of heavy cream
  • If you want to make this ahead of time, make the whole recipe without the heavy cream and refrigerate. When you are ready to eat, heat the spinach mixture in a pan and then add heavy cream (or coconut milk). Cook on low heat for about 22 minutes before serving
  • This palak makhani should be consumed within 2 days of making once the cream or coconut milk has been added. Be sure to refrigerate it
  • Serve with Naan and / or rice
  • The base of this palak makhani recipe is commonly used for many Indian recipes. That base is everything until the tomato sauce and water have cooked to a sauce consistency. You can refrigerate this base and use it in almost any Indian recipe
  • Use a pan with a wide base because it will cook faster and evenly
Palak Makhani Recipe (2)

Recipe Inspiration

When I started this blog, I made it a point to not focus it on Indian food only. Much as I love Indian food, I wanted to challenge myself to try recipes that don’t come naturally to me.

But, that doesn’t mean I can’t occasionally share a recipe. If a recipe is really good, I feel like I need to show off, I mean, share it with all of my wonderful readers because everyone should be able to enjoy it. ????

This recipe came about because I had baby spinach leftover from my spinach salad recipe. It might have gone bad, if I didn’t use it up immediately. I felt a hankering for Indian food and thought it would be perfect

This Palak makhani is not something you will find on menus of Indian restaurant. You might see “Saag Paneer”, “Saag Aloo”, “Sarsoon ka Saag”, “Palak Paneer” or “Aloo Palak” but you won’t see Palak Makhani anywhere

That’s because this is my own creation made from a base of different recipes. It has been so much fun to experiment with this recipe, so, I hope you like it.

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What is the difference between saag and palak?

Saag is a general term for all leafy greens such as mustard greens, collard greens, Kale, etc. I have always used it to refer to bitter greens, but, it can refer to different types of green vegetables

Palak specifically refers to Spinach. So, if you see “palak paneer” on menus, its spinach with paneer. Whereas “saag paneer” is a mixture of greens with paneer

What to serve with it?

  • Basmati Rice
  • Papad
  • Lassi
  • Coconut Rice
  • Bombay Potatoes
  • Kachumber Salad

Questions about making this makhani

Can I use frozen spinach?

Yes, you can absolutely use frozen spinach. Be sure to use the chopped spinach because it will save you so much time and hassle.

Thaw it, rinse it in a (affiliate link) nylon strainer and drain EVERY drop of liquid from it. The spinach should be hard as a rock when all the water is drained from it.

I made this recipe twice. The first time, I used fresh baby spinach and the second time, I went with frozen spinach. They both tasted good, but, for my money the fresh baby spinach was better

The spinach practically melted in my mouth which made it that much better. This image is of the recipe using fresh spinach. I wasn’t happy with the overall image, so, I re-did the photos in a new setting. But, the palak makhani tastes soooo good.

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Can spinach and tomatoes be cooked together?

There is a lot of controversy around this issue and I don’t claim to be an dietician or health professional. There is a common belief that it causes kidney stones and / or chronic gas. I have read studies that both dispel and agree on both effects.

What I can say is that this two are commonly cooked together in many East Indian recipes for generations. Every body is different, so, always consult your health care professional.

Can I use big leafy spinach instead of baby spinach?

Yes, you can use fresh leafy spinach in it. Wash it and chop it before adding to the pan.

Can I add paneer?

Yes, feel free to add paneer to this makhani. I like using it without paneer, but, it will taste just as good.

If you don’t like a creamy or paneer version, you can go with a more traditional recipe. Make this easy palak dal recipe which is made with split yellow pigeon peas (toor dal).

You can also add green peas to it. I love matar palak too.

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Other Indian Food Recipes

If you like this Palak Makhani, check out some of my other Indian recipes

  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Kadai Paneer
  • Paneer Pizza
  • Corn on the Cob Curry
  • Sweet Potato Curry
  • Aloo Bhindi Fry

How to Make Palak Makhani

  1. Heat a pan on medium heat and add vegan butter (or Ghee)
  2. Add black mustard seeds and wait for them to “pop”
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3. Add the cumin seeds and let them brown

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4. Add the chopped red onions and let them brown (about 2-3 minutes)

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5. Add Thai chili

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6. Add minced garlic and ginger

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7. Add the turmeric and red chili powder

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8. Add 3/4 cup of tomato sauce. You can use canned tomato sauce (no salt added) or puree 3 small tomatoes

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9. Add 2 1/2 cups of water

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10. Add salt, cumin powder and garam masala

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11. Let most of the water dissipate until its a thick sauce consistency

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12. Add 12oz Baby Spinach. I used 2 bags of 6oz baby spinach.

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13. Let it shrink to about 1/2 its size before you mix it. Should be about 6 minutes on medium heat

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14. Add heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk to the pan

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15. After adding the cream, mix well and cook for about 5 minutes or until you start seeing the cream start to boil. It might take a little longer based on the type of pan you use.

16. This is optional to add. It gives the palak makhani a little glistening on top when you add about 1tsp of butter. I just add a small cube of vegan butter on top when I serve it

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Palak Makhani

Rini

A creamy, buttery spinach recipe that is a fun Indian recipe to make at home

Go Ahead, Rate it now!

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Prep Time 10 minutes mins

Cook Time 45 minutes mins

Total Time 55 minutes mins

Course Main Course

Cuisine Indian

Servings 4 Servings

Calories 418 kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat a pan on medium heat and add butter (I used vegan butter, but, you can use any butter)

  • Add black mustard seeds and wait for them to “pop”

    Palak Makhani Recipe (23)

  • Add the cumin seeds and let them brown

    Palak Makhani Recipe (24)

  • Add the chopped red onions and let them brown

    Palak Makhani Recipe (25)

  • Add minced garlic and ginger

    Palak Makhani Recipe (26)

  • Add Thai green chili

    Palak Makhani Recipe (27)

  • Add the turmeric and red chili powder

    Palak Makhani Recipe (28)

  • Add 3/4 cup of tomato sauce

    Palak Makhani Recipe (29)

  • Add 2 1/2 cups of water

    Palak Makhani Recipe (30)

  • Add salt, cumin-coriander and garam masala

    Palak Makhani Recipe (31)

  • Let most of the water dissipate until its a thick sauce consistency

    Palak Makhani Recipe (32)

  • Add 12oz Baby Spinach

    Palak Makhani Recipe (33)

  • Add heavy cream (or cream of choice) and cook for about 5 minutes

    Palak Makhani Recipe (34)

  • Turn off heat when it starts to boil

  • Serve with rice or naan

Notes

Nutrition info is approximate

Tips:

  • Use baby spinach for making this palak makhani because it will cook faster
  • If you have time, roast one small red pepper, remove its skin and puree it with tomato sauce before adding to the pan. It will give the makhani a delicious, smoky flavor
  • To make this vegan, use full fat coconut milk instead of heavy cream
  • If you want to make this ahead of time, make the whole recipe without the heavy cream and refrigerate. When you are ready to eat, heat the spinach mixture in a pan and then add heavy cream (or coconut milk). Cook on low heat for about 22 minutes before serving
  • This palak makhani should be consumed within 2 days of making once the cream or coconut milk has been added. Be sure to refrigerate it
  • Serve with Naan and / or rice
  • The base of this palak makhani recipe is commonly used for many Indian recipes. That base is everything until the tomato sauce and water have cooked to a sauce consistency. You can refrigerate this base and use it in almost any Indian recipe
  • Use a pan with a wide base because it will cook faster and evenly

Nutrition

Calories: 418kcal

Keyword Indian palak recipes, saag vs palak

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Palak Makhani Recipe (2024)
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