A palak paratha or spinach paratha is a healthy and delicious option to roti at an Indian meal. This whole wheat flatbread studded with veggies is easy to make and you can adapt it to use up any quick-cooking leafy vegetable you have on hand. You can also make it oil-free. Serve with dal and raita for a wholesome, tasty feast you’ll want to make again and again.
This spinach paratha or palak paratha puts in a regular appearance at our dinner table, for good reason.
While an aloo paratha, with the separate prep for the stuffing, takes up a little more time than you might be prepared to squander on a weeknight, making this palak paratha takes just a tiny bit more effort than making a plain roti. And that small effort results in such a tremendous nutrition — and flavor — payback.
I call this a spinach paratha but you can make it with almost any leafy green you have on hand, including methi or fenugreek leaves, arugula (I added some), watercress, chard (leaves only, not the tough stems) and beet greens. You can also toss in herbs like cilantro or mint. It’s a great way to use up those little bits of veggies and herbs that might be sitting around in your refrigerator with nowhere to go.
Why you’ll love this spinach paratha
- It’s nourishing. Whole wheat and leafy greens. It doesn’t get much better than that. You can make this palak paratha with as little or as much oil as you want, or use a cooking spray.
- It’s delicious. A few simple spices, in combination with the leafy greens, lift this paratha above the realm of a regular roti, making it more tasty and nutritious.
- It’s easy. You will have to roll the parathas, and that might appear difficult if you are new to this, but you have to make a start in order to get better at it. No one rolls a perfectly round roti or paratha at their first try and as you practice you will improve. Besides who cares if your palak paratha looks like it belongs in the atlas? It’ll still taste great.
- Durum whole wheat flour. This is the kind used for Indian flatbreads like parathas and rotis. This flour, also called atta, is more finely milled and therefore softer than the regular whole wheat flour sold here in the United States, which results in smooth, soft rotis. You can find durum whole wheat flour or atta quite easily online or at Indian grocery stores, but at a pinch you can use regular whole wheat flour for acceptable results.
- Spinach (or other leafy greens, use the leaves only, not the stems): I like using baby spinach greens here and I chop them before adding them to the paratha. This time I also added a few handfuls of arugula (rocket), which has a pleasant, mildly bitter taste, because I had it on hand. You can use just one kind of leafy, or a mix.
- Carom seeds (ajwain): Ajwain adds a special flavor to savory north Indian dishes like samosas and parathas, so try to use it if you can. You can leave it out if you are unable to source it, and use only cumin.
- Cumin seeds (jeera): Cumin is a great digestive and a great flavoring agent in parathas.
- Red pepper flakes (or cayenne): Because you need a bit of spice in here, use according to your tolerance for heat. I recommend half a teaspoon.
- Oil or cooking spray: For roasting the parathas.
- Sourdough starter: If you have a starter sitting around, you can add up to ½ cup to the paratha dough. As I showed you in my Sourdough Roti post, adding sourdough starter to Indian flatbreads is a great flavor and nutrition enhancer.
- Turmeric: if you want to add some color and healthfulness. I don’t usually add this to my parathas, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t.
- Ginger garlic paste: A tiny bit can add a lot of flavor to these parathas. If you’re planning to eat these spinach parathas with just raita, do add it. If you plan to eat them with spicier dals and sabzis, I’d leave it out.
- Chaat masala: Usually used in Indian street foods and available in a packet at the Indian grocery or online, chaat masala has a tangy, alluring flavor that works really well in parathas. I often add it to my aloo paratha stuffing and you can stir some in–no more than a teaspoon–into this palak paratha dough.
How to make tasty palak parathas
This is not a stuffed paratha, so you will incorporate all of the ingredients, including the veggies, in the dough itself and then roll it all out. It makes things that much easier and quicker, but…there’s a catch.
Veggies like spinach express liquid, which can throw off your measurements if you don’t factor that excess moisture in while making your dough. It’s not hard, though, to do so, all it takes is a tiny bit of patience.
- Begin by chopping the greens into smaller bits that will be dispersed through the dough. I used four packed cups of greens for two cups of whole wheat flour.
- Salt the greens and set them aside for about 10 minutes. This will help the greens express their moisture.
- Crush the greens with your fingers to get as much moisture out as possible, but do it in the bowl so you retain the liquid–it’s full of vitamins so you don’t want to waste it and we will be mixing it back into the dough.
- Add the flour and other ingredients to the bowl and mix. Trickle water in slowly to create a stiff dough. You don’t want a sticky dough at this stage because the greens will likely continue to express some moisture so if you make your dough too soft at this stage it will get even softer as it stands, making the parathas harder to roll.
- Let the dough stand 15 minutes. Then divide it into 10 equal-sized pieces and roll each into a smooth ball. Flour the working surface and roll each ball into an even round, about six to seven inches in diameter.
- Heat a cast iron or nonstick griddle. Place the paratha on the hot griddle and flip once it begins to puff up.
- If using oil or a cooking spray, apply some at this point, then flip the paratha and cook until golden spots appear. Flip once more and remove once both sides are cooked.
What to serve with spinach paratha
Parathas can be eaten for any meal, from breakfast to lunch to dinner.