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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Shahi Palak Biryani - Spinach Rice, A Royal Experience

This is my favorite spinach preparation and one of my favorite biryani recipes. My mom rarely made it, reserving it for special occasions, festivals or when we entertained guests. I had been thinking about it quite frequently and finally decided to make it. So a call to mom, jotted down the recipe and made it. It turned out as delicious as I remember. Hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I do.

1 bunch spinach/palak - chopped coarsely and blanched
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1-2 green chillies, to taste
1/2 red onion - diced
1/2 red onion- sliced
2 tsp garam masala
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ginger paste
4-5 mint leaves
salt to taste
2 tbsp ghee
1 cup basmati rice
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
2 badi elaichi/ black cardamom
4-5 cloves
2 cinnamon pieces, an inch in length
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup cashews, to garnish
salt to taste

Puree together the blanched spinach leaves, green chillies, cilantro and mint leaves and set aside. In a pan, add one tbsp of ghee, and fry the diced onions along with the ginger and garlic. Once the raw smell goes away, add the puree made earlier and the garam masala. Add salt. Cook for a minute more and set aside. Roast some cashews in a drop of ghee and keep aside. The cashews should be lightly browned.

In a deep pan, add one tbsp of ghee and add the whole spices viz. cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves. Stir till you get the aromatic smell of the spices (about a minute). To this add the sliced onion, fry till the onion is transparent and then add the rice. Fry the rice for a couple of minutes. This helps to make the rice less sticky. Then add the coconut milk and water, stir well. Add salt, then cook the rice till it is completely cooked and fluffy. You can also pressure cook the rice, but cook it for one whistle and take it off the heat immediately. Do not overcook the rice.

Using a fork, separate the rice grains and fluff it. Then add the cooked spinach mixutre prepared earlier to the rice and mix together it all toghether. Garnish with cashews and serve hot.

To blanch the leaves, boil enough water so that you can easily submerge all the leaves and add the spinach to the boiling water. Keep a bowl of ice cold water ready. After a minute, remove the spinach leaves and add to the cold water. This is called "shocking" and it stops the spinach from cooking further. 


  1. What is on the side? Is it Boondi Raita?
    I might try this on one of these weekends.