North Indian tandoori palak murghi (chicken spinach)

North Indian tandoori palak murghi

This is a classic recipe made in many Punjabi households, apparently.

(Serves 4)


  • 400g natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp tandoori masala
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 700g of chicken breast, cubed
  • 4 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 3 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 50g fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh tomato, diced
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, diced
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 6 green birdseye chillies
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 100g spinach
  • Handful of fresh coriander, as garnish
  • Salt


  1. In a large bowl gently whisk the natural yoghurt to give it a smooth consistency, add the tandoori masala and the lemon juice.
  2. Cover the chicken in the yoghurt marinade and refrigerate for two hours.
  3. In a heavy-based pan, heat the oil on a medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and ginger, and saute until golden brown.
  4. Add the fresh tomato and pepper to the pan and cook until they begin to soften.
  5. Add the tinned tomatoes, turn down the heat and allow the mixture to reduce until it turns darker reddish-brown. If it sticks to the pan, add a little boiling water.
  6. Finely chop four of the chillies and add to the pan. Add the other two whole (this allows you to control the heat in your sauce)
  7. Using a pestle and mortar, gently crush the cardamom pods and dispose of the outer shells. Add the cloves and coriander seeds and grind to make a basic masala mix. Add this masala mix to the pan along with the turmeric. Season to taste. The curry base is ready when it is of a thick consistency and the oil has risen to the top (this is achieved by keeping the sauce on a low heat).
  8. Add the chicken and its marinade, along with the spinach, and cook on low heat for 20–25 minutes, until the meat is tender.
  9. Sprinkle some coriander on top and serve with rice, naan or chapati.