Spinach in Coconut Gravy (Konkani Style Palak Ambat Recipe)

Spinach in Coconut Gravy (Konkani Style Palak Ambat Recipe)

Palak ambat is one of Konkani cuisine's delicious coconut curries made using spinach. Spinach is cooked in a coconut gravy along with toor dal & is then seasoned with onions to make a super delicious curry. It's spicy & is mildly flavoured using tamarind & onion using in the gravy. Onion seasoning is a treat to the curry, to the ones who devour on it & to the neighborhood it's being cooked in. Give it a try to know what I'm talking about. 😉 😋

Palak/Spinach Ambat with plain rice is delicious. You can serve them with some papads or fryums/vodis for a crunch. This curry also tastes wonderful with any dosa, idli and even with chapati. Cook this simple and delicious Konkani delight as spinach is so damn nutritious & your lunch can't get any more comforting.

Although most of the Konkani cuisine dishes are far from being photogenic, I plan to post them more often as some of the best tasting food is the simple everyday food and they need to be put under the limelight for their simplicity, taste and authenticity! One such recipe is Palak/Spinach Ambat.

Traditionally, this curry is also made using Malabar Spinach/Basella (also called as Basale in Kannada and Vali in Konkani). It's then called vali ambat in Konkani.


  • 1 bunch of spinach (2 cups of finely chopped spinach)
  • 1/4 cup toor dal
  • 3/4 cup of grated coconut
  • 5-6 dried red chillies
  • 1/2 a lemon sized tamarind
  • 1/2 of a medium sized onion
  • Salt to taste


  • 4 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 medium sized onion

Serves: 2-3

Preparation Time: 35-40 minutes

Preparation Method:

1. Wash toor dal & pressure cook it for 3-4 whistles using 3/4 cup of water.

To fasten their cooking soak them for as long as possible. Overnight, 1-4 hours whatever helps.

2. Wash spinach, chop off the roots. Use the stems except portions where it's extra mature. You know the portion's mature when it leaves a little extra fiber of the stem hanging off. 

3. Finely chop spinach.

4. Add chopped spinach to the pressure cooker containing cooked toor dal & cook it for a single whistle.

5. Meanwhile, fry dried red chillies with few drops of oil for few seconds.  

Frying helps remove it's raw flavour, helps red chillies get crispy thus, helps them powder easily on grinding.

6. Once it cools down, grind them along with grated coconut, roughly chopped half an onion, tamarind and salt into a smooth paste using as much water as needed.

7. Transfer the ground masala, cooked toor dal, spinach into a cooking vessel.

8. Add 1/2 - 1 cup of water if needed to bring it to semi-thick curry consistency. Keep it a little watery to begin with as it thickens on cooking. It further thickens on cooling down. We need a medium thick curry.

9. Check & adjust salt. Bring it to a boil.

10. Simmer the curry until rawness of the masala goes off. Taste & you'll know if it's cooked.

11. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a wok/tempering pan. Add 1 whole medium onion finely chopped to it. Fry onions until they start to brown. Saute in between at frequent intervals. The onions on the side otherwise fry & burn faster.

Once all onions are uniformly fried, add the tempering to the curry & mix well.

12. Serve the curry hot along with some steaming hot rice.

Side Note:

1. You can also make this curry with a garlic tempering but I personally love it with onion tempering. For garlic tempering, smash garlic a little, (peeled/unpeeled garlic) fry in oil so that they give out their flavour into the oil. Once garlic starts to change their colour & start to brown, add the tempering to the curry & mix well.

2. If you want a thick curry add little more coconut or few rice grains while grinding the coconut masala.

Use little less water if you need a thick curry.

3. Use just enough toor dal, if you use more than needed, the curry will taste more of toor dal. Toor dal acts as base to this curry. The coconut masala taste should overpower every other taste in the curry. The tempering elevates the taste of the curry.

4. Spinach comes with impurities like dirt and sand. The simple way to clean spinach is to soak it in water for 5 minutes, rinse it well under running water or wash it 2-3 times using fresh water each time in a bowl.