Palak Chicken is a whole lot different than a regular Indian Chicken Curry recipe. Juicy chicken on the bones simmered in a spice laden curry sauce and cooked with finely chopped spinach. Result is a flavor bomb that’s irresistibly good.
Learn the trick to prevent overcooking the spinach. Make Chicken Palak in the Instant Pot, on the stove top or a regular pressure cooker, all methods shared in the post.
Instant Pot Palak Chicken
Today’s Instant Pot Palak Chicken curry is not boring, ugly and drab 😀
It is a fast prep, with simple steps and an amazing taste. The BEST ever Palak Chicken you’ll ever eat. I guarantee.
You’ll enjoy mopping it all up with hot Chapathis, paraths, Naan or rice.
If you want you can replace the chicken on the bones with boneless chicken pieces.
But, I highly recommend using chicken on the bones because the bone broth adds a ton of flavor to the gravy which you can’t surpass with boneless chicken.
If you have baby spinach on hand use them however if you have regular spinach with long stalks use the leaves only and save the stalks for cooking curries or dals.
Don’t throw the stalks away, they are packed with nutrients.
And be mindful of the Chicken : Spinach ratio. It plays an important role in developing the flavors and making the recipe an outstanding one.
Read the TIPS below for elaborate details.
What is Chicken Palak?
Chicken Palak is an Indian Style Chicken Curry that’s cooked along with pantry staple spices and chopped spinach leaves known as palak.
This curry tastes amazing with with Chapathis, paraths, naan or rice.
Palak Chicken Recipe vs Chicken Saag
Now Palak Chicken Recipe is not to be confused with Chicken Saag or Chicken Saagwala.
Both the recipes have different flavor profiles, they are cooked differently, look different, has different texture and consistency and taste very different too.
One of the striking difference between Palak Chicken and Chicken Saag is that – the former uses finely chopped spinach in the recipe whereas, the later uses a spinach puree.
We love both Chicken Palak and Chicken Saag.
Chicken Palak Ingredients
- Chicken on the Bones: I used a variety of pieces. You can use boneless chicken pieces as well.
- Spinach or Palak: Washed, cleaned and finely chopped.
- Onion: Sliced.
- Ginger Garlic Paste: I used my Homemade Ginger Garlic paste recipe. Don’t miss it because it’s the best ever ginger garlic paste recipe that’ll last you upto 6 months without becoming green.
- Green Chili paste: This is optional and can be replaced with finely chopped green chilies. However, the fresh chili paste makes a flavorful combo with chicken and palak & makes the whole recipe even more amazing. Boosts up the flavors at one shot. Therefore, I highly recommended it but again it’s not mandatory.
- Dry Spices: Coriander powder, cumin powder, Kashmiri Red chili powder or deggi mirch and turmeric powder.
- For tempering: Whole cumin seeds and dry whole red chilies.
Pro Tip: Here’s how to make a quick green chili paste? Blitz a handful washed & cleaned, stalk removed green chilies in your mixer grinder. Make a coarse paste, do not add water. Store it in an air tight jar after mixing a few teaspoons neutral oil. Shall last you for 1 month.
Palak Chicken Curry – Foodies Terminal Tips
- Fry the Masala very well: Frying or Bhunofying the Masala is so important in Indian cooking that I cannot just stress it enough. This little trick can make a recipe phenomenal. Fry the Masalas until you see streaks of oil appearing. This will enhance the taste, build intense flavor & make your chicken palak look appetizing.
- Chicken on the Bones is highly recommended because the bone broth shall greatly enhance the flavor profile.
- The homemade fresh green chili paste does boost up the dish and make it surprisingly bowl-licking good. I would not skip it by any means.
- Nailing the Chicken to Palak ratio: It all boils down to the right ratio. However, there’s no right or wrong Chicken to Spinach ratio per se. But, we tested the recipe using a variety palak : chicken ratio – more, less and everything in between. And the best ratio of Chicken to Palak = For every 500 gms chicken I prefer 1 whole bunch of palak which is about 4-5 cups finely chopped spinach.
- Do not over cook the Spinach and how can you prevent that exactly? Add the finely chopped spinach after pressure cooking the Chicken and simmer for 2-3 minutes. That’s it! Spinach does not take any longer to get fully cooked. Over cooked spinach in this dish will make a mess. The overcooked spinach will clump up and you cannot find them evenly in the curry. It also does ruin the taste and look of the Palak chicken.
How to make Palak Chicken?
Step #1 Temper Oil & saute Onions
Allow the cumin and dry red chilies sizzle in the hot oil until fragrant.
Add the onion and saute until they begin to turn limp and translucent.
The onions will caramelize a bit and change its color at this stage.
Do add salt to hasten up the process. Instant Pot is kept on saute at NORMAL throughout.
Step #2 Prepare the masala base
Throw in the ginger garlic paste and the green chili paste and saute very well until the raw smell completely disappears.
Things might begin to stick at the bottom of the pot at this stage, sprinkle a few drops of water and begin to fry again.
Add the dry spices + a splash of water and fry very well until you see streaks of oil appearing.
Splashes of water works very well if you decide to cook in less oil. It prevents the masalas from getting burnt and helps them to roast well.
Step #3 Roast the Chicken well with masala
Add the washed and cleaned chicken and coat well with the bhuna masala.
Roast the chicken along with the bhuna masala for quiet sometime.
You’ll notice that the color will slowly darken and oil will begin to ooze out.
This is exactly when you have to stop frying and add the liquid.
Step #4 Pressure Cook Chicken
Add water. I added about 1/2 cup water for 500 gms chicken. You can also add 3/4 cup water (read notes for more details).
Deglaze the pot very well so that all bits and crumbs are removed from the bottom of the pot.
Add the sliced tomatoes and cook on HIGH for 6 mins than wait for natural pressure release for 5 mins.
Step #5 Mix in the spinach & simmer
Add the chopped spinach and mix very well gently.
Simmer for 3-4 mins on Low on SAUTE in the Instant Pot.
You can adjust the consistency that you prefer.
Sometimes the chicken and the spinach releases a lots of juice and at other times there’s not much liquid that comes out from them.
You can simmer and adjust the amount of liquid preferably before adding the spinach.
Serve hot. Enjoy!
What to eat with Palak Chicken?
You can eat chapathi, paratha, naan or rice with Palak Chicken.
How long can you store Palak chicken curry?
Chicken Palak shall last you upto 5 days in the fridge when stored in an air tight container.
Re-heat the curry on a skillet or microwave oven with sprinkles of water.
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Watch Recipe Video
- 1 tsp Cumin Powder
- 1 tsp Coriander Powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tbsp Paprika or Deggi Mirch or Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
- 1/2 tsp Whole Cumin Seeds
- 2 dry whole red chilies
- 1/2 cup or 3/4 cup depending on the consistency that you prefer (beware the chicken sometimes releases a lots of juices, 1 added just 1/2 cup water.)
- Begin by washing the chicken pieces very well. Set them aside in a bowl.
- Set the Instant Pot on SAUTE and keep it at NORMAL. Add oil. When the oil becomes moderately hot throw in the cumin and whole dry red chilies and allow them to sizzle for a few seconds or until fragrant.
- Now add the sliced onions and saute until they begin to become limp and translucent. Add salt to hasten the process. You’ll notice that the onions will caramelize a bit and change in color.
- Now add the ginger garlic paste along with the green chili paste. Saute well until the raw smell completely disappears. Things might stick to the bottom of the pot at this stage especially if you chose to cook today’s recipe with lesser oil. No worries just splash a little water and resume sauteing.
- Next, add the dry spices along with a splash of water or you may even dilute all the dry spices with few tablespoons water and make a slurry and than add it to the pot. After adding the spices roast them very well until you see streaks of oil appearing.
- Now, add the washed and cleaned chicken pieces and coat them very well with the Bhuna masala. Fry the chicken pieces along with the masala very well until oil begins to ooze out. You’ll notice that the color of the chicken and the masalas will darken slightly and they will begin too look very appetizing. It’s the right time to stop frying and adding the liquid.
- Pour water and deglaze the pot very well. Deglazing is very important and it prevents the BURN message on the Instant Pot. Scrape the bottom of the pot with the help of a spatula and remove and bits and crumbs stuck at the base of the pot.
- Close the lid. Seal the valve. Press the PRESSURE COOK button and set it on HIGH for 6 minutes.
- When the Instant Pot begins to beep wait for natural pressure release for 5 minutes and than release the rest of the pressure manually.
- Open the lid carefully (if you find that the chicken had released lots of juices and add the finely chopped spinach to the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Mix gently.
- Now, press the SAUTE and set it on LOW. Simmer for 3-4 mins. That should be enough to fully cook the spinach. Adjust the consistency that you prefer. Serve hot and Enjoy!
How to cook Palak Chicken in Pressure Cooker?
- Follow upto STEP 7. Cook over medium flame in a regular pressure cooker..
- Close the lid of the pressure cooker and wait for 4-5 whistles. Turn off the heat and wait for natural pressure release for 5 minutes. Open the lid carefully.
- Mix in the chopped spinach gently. Turn on the heat and keep it on medium low. Simmer for 3-4 mins. Serve hot enjoy!
How to make Palak Chicken on the stove top?
- Follow upto STEP 7. Cook over medium flame upto STEP 7 and use a skillet or Kadai.
- Cover the Kadai with a lid and cook the chicken for 25 minutes over medium low heat.
- When the chicken is fully cooked. Open the lid carefully and mix in the chopped spinach gently. Simmer for more 3-4 mins over medium low heat.
- Serve hot. Enjoy!
- Measuring Units used, 1 cup = 240 ml & 1 teaspoon = 5 ml.
- Something about water: You can add about 1/2 cup to 3/4 water in today’s recipe. But, sometimes the chicken releases a lots of its own juices. If that is the case I recommend to simmer the curry just after pressure cooking to kill some of the liquid and than add the chopped spinach and simmer just for a couple mins more. This will prevent the spinach from getting overcooked.
- Chicken on the bones and skinless is highly recommended.
- The BEST Chicken to Spinach ratio = 1 bunch spinach (about 4-5 cups chopped spinach).
- NOTE: I added only 1/2 cups for 500 gms or 1.1 pound chicken and I simmered the Palak chicken curry after adding the spinach.
- You can always adjust the consistency and spice level according to your preference.