Monday 21 July 2014

Chicken Palak

Chicken Palak on a bed of basmati rice with turmeric stirred through the cooking water

Indian food……mmmm……it makes me drool.  Aromatic, filling, decadent, calorific noms.  Its always a treat and the food coma by carbicide afterwards is always worth it.  But it is often high in bad fats and fraught with post dinner guilt and bloating.  So I thought I’d play around with making a tasty curry that doesn’t incur too much guilt.  

I’ve made this a couple of times now and I really enjoy it.  The first time it came out perfectly. The second time I was cooking for the dragon (who despite what his name would suggest) does not have a high heat tolerance. When adding chili flakes, I opened the direct-pour side of the shaker instead of the let-a-little-out-at-a-time side and flooded it with crazy amounts of spice.  This was not so nice.  Much milk and tissues were consumed with that dinner I can tell you.  This time I’ve added a real chili with the seeds removed to make up for his last bad experience.  I’ve promised him it is actually nice when you can taste the flavour rather than just feel the burn on your tongue. Here goes!


Serves 4.

The curry itself is approx. 245 calories per serve (total fat 4.7g, saturated fat 1.3g).  1 cup of cooked brown rice adds approximately 215 cals, while a serve of basmati rice adds 190 cals. Basmati has lower cals but brown rice has much higher dietary fiber (14% RDI vs 2% RDI).


  • Small amount of rice bran or coconut oil (I tend to leave it out because I use non stick but these are good options if you must use oil)
  • 500g chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 250g packet of frozen spinach, thawed, or 500g fresh spinach leaves, minced in the food processor.
  • 2 tbs low fat cottage cheese
  • OPTIONAL: SMALL shake of chili flakes from the correct side of the shaker – trust me this is important – or one small red chili diced (seeds in if you like it hot, seeds removed if you prefer medium.
  • Few sprigs of coriander, chopped, to serve.
  • Your preferred rice

Potential Spins

Leave out the chill, or max it out if you like it hot.  Add turmeric or saffron to your rice to give it a flavour punch, swap chicken for paneer or tofu for a vegetarian option, add any other in season vegetables you like, tweak the spices any which way you please – experiment with different quantities or combinations. Serve on cauliflower rice instead of normal rice if you are on a low carb diet and actually like it - I haven't tried it yet because it sounds scary.  Add a dollop of cream if you want an extra creamy nom fest.


Combine spices, curry powder, garlic, ginger and 2-3 tbs water in a non stick frying pan to make the curry paste. It should be about this consistency, so adjust the water as you see fit.  You could use oil instead but I've found that water works just as well.  Cook until fragrant.
Smells good! It does look like a lot of spices in the pan but I think it is just right.  Spin it to what smells right to you.

Add chicken. Coat in the curry paste and brown.  Add onion and chili, cook until the chicken is cooked and the onion is transparent.

Add tomatoes and stock.  Cover pan and cook for 10 minutes.

Add spinach. Stir, and simmer for 5 minutes with the lid off.
Add cottage cheese, coriander and season to taste.  Stir through and heat for 1 minute.
Spinach stirred through and cottage cheese dolloped on top ready to stir.
I was unhappy with this brand of frozen spinach as it wasn't minced enough and the final product does not look as green as usual.

Serve on a bed of rice, top with coriander.

Enjoy :)

My Take Aways

It got the Dragon's seal of approval this time, since he could actually taste it with the lower spice levels - phew!

I love this meal.  I was unhappy with the colour and I blame the different brand of frozen spinach that I decided to try and the less than ideal tomatoes available, but it still tasted good.  I included the cottage cheese as a nod to the fact that paneer (an Indian cheese) is usually included in a palak instead of chicken, and also because I have had a delicious palak paneer once which had minced paneer (similar consistency to low fat cottage cheese) so I thought I'd give it a go.  Its pretty easy and always a winner.

What spins would you add to this?

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