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South Asian Cooking: Spinach and Chicken Curry Infused with Dried Fenugreek (Palak Chicken)

Curries have been synonymous with Subcontinental cuisine sinceancient times. Evidence gathered at the archaeological site of the Indus Valley Civilization, Moehnjodaro, suggested mortars and pestles were utilized to crush herbs and spices to help in cooking meat. As the Subcontinent passed through various regimes under different conquerors hailing from parts of Asia, such as the Mughals who helped to transform Subcontinental cuisine by bringing in Persian influence, the curry underwent an evolution too. And now with the geographical barriers separating India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the taste of each of their indigenous curries greatly differs but still shares one common element; the incorporation of various spices including red chillies to create an aromatic culinary experience.

Spinach and Chicken Curry infused with Dried Fenugreek (Palak Chicken)

The term curry can be etymologically traced back to the Tamil word ‘kari’, meaning sauce. Most curries are laden with a generous portion of gravy and a mixture of meat and vegetables. However, the recipe I am discussing today is relatively dry; it concentrates more on accentuating fragrant flavors of the spinach steamed with dried fenugreek and succulent pieces of chicken. As far back as I can remember, this dish would fill my house with pungent aromas as it simmered on the stove, beckoning the hungry to the dinner table.

Spinach and Chicken Curry infused with Dried Fenugreek (Palak Chicken)


  • 1 kg spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 kg chicken, with the bone
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Dried fenugreek
  • Water


  • Roughly chop the spinach and rinse thoroughly
  • Chopped Spinach

  • Boil the spinach for about 5 minutes till it has wilted
  • Boil the Spinach

  • Once the spinach has wilted, pour the spinach through a large sieve to drain out the water. Squeeze out any excess water and let the spinach dry
  • Before cooking, create the spice mixture, adding the red chilli powder, salt, turmeric and coriander powder in a bowl and set aide
  • Curry Spice Mixture

  • Heat oil in a large pan and add the chopped onion. Saute them till they start to brown. Keep stirring to avoid the onions from burning
  • Saute the Onions
  • Add the chicken pieces and mix well. Cook the chicken on all sides till it begins to turn golden brown
  • Lightly brown the Chicken

  • Mix in the minced garlic and ginger and cook for a further 2-3 minutes
  • As it becomes fragrant, add the spice mixture and stir well, coating the chicken completely. Pour in a dash of water at this point to prevent the spices from burning and cook for 3 minutes
  • Add the chopped tomatoes to the mixtures and stir. Cook for another 10 minutes till the tomatoes are soft and almost completely broken down
  • Cook the Tomatoes with the Chicken

  • Pour enough water to cover the chicken and tomato mixture. Cover and simmer till the water has almost dried up and the tomatoes have dissolved completely
  • Lower the heat at this point and add the spinach. Mix well and cover. Simmer for another 5 minutes
  • Once cooked, switch off the heat and sprinkle the dried fenugreek generously. Cover and let the steam infuse all the flavors
  • Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving

Spinach and Chicken Curry infused with Dried Fenugreek (Palak Chicken)

Having originated in Ancient Persia, it is no wonder that spinach is such an essential in South Asian cooking. This recipe can be tweaked to substitute chicken for potatoes or even paneer (cheese). Already loaded with flavors from the spices, the dried fenugreek adds another dimension to this recipe, filling it with earthy flavors. Most people I know enjoy it with steamed rice, but you can opt to have it with flat bread too. An easy way to bring the food from the Subcontinent onto your dinner table.

Spinach and Chicken Curry infused with Dried Fenugreek (Palak Chicken)

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  • Looks yum. I make it with fenugreek leaves (methi) as well.

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