Chana Palak

Every time I go to the Indian buffet there is a version of palak or saag which are a spinach or other leafy green dish. They usually contain something else including chickpeas or paneer, which is a blocked cheese. It’s my father-in-law’s favorite dish and something I always steer clear of. That being said, I wanted to like it because spinach is a power food for pregnancy, high in folate, iron, and calcium.

While I enjoy a good salad, I am not a salad a day person. Especially during this pregnancy, I need food to keep me full. That’s why this was so great! Pack a salad worth of spinach into a few scoops of this dish, along with chickpeas and rice to balance the meal and keep me full.

Bowl of chana palak with side pita

What to love about chana palak

Not only is it a great option for a growing baby belly, but my husband loves it too. I adapted the recipe from vegrecipesofindia.com and their palak paneer recipe. Although paneer is delicious, I really wanted to use up a bag of frozen chickpeas that I had. Its basically a cooked salad in a bowl. Use up those wilting greens in your fridge.

Not a New Year’s Resolution, but I am also trying to keep my food as healthy as possible so we are able to keep up with our little girl that’ll be making her appearance in about 12 weeks. The healthier we are, hopefully the smoother the transition to parenthood will be. On that note – we went to our childbirth preparation class yesterday, and I realized how important a healthy lifestyle is to all aspects of life. From conception, growth of fetus, LABOR, and parenting. After hearing some of the things that can happen during labor, I will be doing everything in my power to ensure that I am as healthy as possible and reduce the chance of some of that bad stuff from happening!

So back on the topic of spinach. I’ve been meaning to try this at home for quite some time and started playing around with it. The results were great – and I didn’t even have to add ghee, butter, or cream to get these results. Check out the recipe below.

Chana Palak
Chana Palak

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 5 servings

Ingredients:

1 bag of baby spinach (6 oz)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 – 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ginger paste/squeezable ginger
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (season to your heat preference)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp methi seeds 
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 cup dairy or non-dairy milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coconut sugar (substitute cane sugar if no coconut sugar)
1 tbsp olive or coconut oil

Directions

Boiling Spinach

  1. Boil 3-4 cups water on stove
  2. Get an ice water bath ready with ice water to cool spinach
  3. Add spinach to hot water and boil for 2-3 minutes
  4. Remove from boiled water and place in ice bath to cool (about a minute)
  5. Place spinach leaves in food processor and process until somewhat ground but not a puree

Cooking Chana Palak

  1. Heat oil in pan, once hot add cumin and bay leaf for about 10 seconds – you should hear some crackling of the seeds and smell fragrant
  2. Add onion and sauté until they start to turn translucent
  3. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant. 
  4. Mix in turmeric, pepper, methi seeds, and cayenne pepper and mix well
  5. Pour in all contents of food processor – ground spinach and any liquid
  6. Add salt and coconut sugar, and mix well. If there was a lot of liquid from the spinach, simmer until liquid thickens
  7. Mix in garam masala powder to milk and then add the chickpeas to pan
  8. Once milk is mixed in, heat on low until desired consistency of gravy. This dish is not served runny. If it’s too thick, add additional milk until desired thickness achieved
  9. Remove from heat and serve with naan, rice, roti, or paratha

We loved this at home. Let me know what you think if you try it out or have any questions!

-Cassie

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