Dal Palak (Spinach Dal)

Wholesome Dal Palak (Spinach Dal) is lightly spiced, packed with spinach and makes a very comforting meal with a side of rice. It is also vegan.
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Hearty and wholesome Dal Palak (Spinach Dal) is lightly spiced and makes a great comforting meal. It can be served with any grain of choice and is also vegan.

spinach dal served in a copper kadai

Adding spinach to your dal is a good way to include some greens in your diet, don’t you think? I have always been someone who loves their greens, saag is my absolute favorite. However, I remember my brothers not being too fond of spinach and other leafy greens.

So, mom would often add those greens especially spinach to dal and that way they would eat it. It was an easy way to add more nutrition to dal and somehow no one minded it when it was added to dal. Another way they didn’t mind eating palak (spinach) was of course Palak Paneer. You add paneer to anything and they would love it!

Following mom’s traditions, I do the same and add leafy greens to my dal and this simple spinach dal (or dal palak) is one of my top comfort foods. It’s basic dal but with added spinach to it along with a simple tadka (tempering).

Spinach dal can be made with any lentil you like but I love the combination of toor/ arhar dal (pigeon peas lentil) and masoor dal (split red lentil) for my dal palak. You can heavily spice it or like me, keep it simple. I like to keep this dal simple because I want the flavor of spinach, garlic and ginger to shine through and not get overpowered with all the spices.

Ingredients

Lentils: you can use any lentil you want to make spinach dal but the most commonly used are toor, moong and masoor. Even chana dal can be used. You can make it by using only 1 dal or using a combination of 2 or 3 lentils. I make this dal with a 50-50 combination of toor dal and masoor dal.

Spinach: you can use baby spinach or regular spinach and can also adjust the amount according to your preference. For example, if you

Seasonings: This dal is lightly spiced with just cumin seeds, hing, ginger, garlic and chilies. You can definitely add more seasonings to taste or keep it simple like I did.

ingredients for spinach dal arranged on a board

Step by Step Instructions to make Dal Palak

1- To the inner steel bowl of the Instant pot add 1/2 cup toor dal (pigeon pea lentil), 1/2 cup masoor dal (split red lentils) and 3 cups water.

2- Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Give a stir.

3- Close the lid and press the pressure cook or manual button. Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes with the pressure valve in the sealing position. Let the pressure release naturally.

Stove-top pressure cooker: cook on high heat for 2 whistles, then lower the flame and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes or until the lentils are completely cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

4- This step is optional, but if you want you can blend the dal a little at this point using a wooden spatula or immersion blender. This way you won’t have any dal particles in your final spinach dal but as I mentioned, it’s completely optional. Set this aside.

step by step picture collage of making spinach dal

5- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pot over medium heat. Once hot add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and let it sizzle for a few seconds. Then add 1/4 teaspoon hing and stir.

6- Add the chopped ginger, garlic and green chili.

7- Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the garlic and ginger start turning brown in color.

8- Then add in 3 to 4 cups of chopped spinach.

step by step picture collage of making spinach dal

9- Cook the spinach for 3 to 4 minutes stirring often. The leaves will wilt as the spinach cooks and volume of the spinach will reduce.

10- Add the boiled dal into the pot now.

11- Give a good stir until everything is well combined. Now, let the dal come to a boil. I added additional 1/2 cup water at this point as the dal was too thick for my liking.

12- Let it simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, then squeeze is some lemon juice. You can also sprinkle some garam masala if you like at this point. I didn’t add anything and kept it simple. Serve hot with rice or roti.

step by step picture collage of making spinach dal

Serving Suggestions

The spinach dal is best served with plain boiled white rice. You can also serve it with quinoa, couscous or any grain of choice. You can also serve it along with roti and a sabzi of choice like aloo gobi, aloo matar etc.

Adding Onions & Tomatoes

If you want to add onions and tomatoes to this dal, follow these steps:

  • Add onions along with the ginger, garlic and green chili and cook them for around 3 minutes until they become soft and translucent.
  • If you want to add tomatoes as well, add them after the onions are cooked. Add chopped tomatoes and cook them for 4 to 5 minutes until they become soft.

Then proceed with adding the boiled into the pot and follow the remaining steps as it.

Spicing It Up

This dal palak recipe is very mildly spiced. If you want you can add spices like coriander powder, garam masala, cumin powder and kasuri methi to it.

If you prefer a spicy dal, add more of the green chilies or add some red chili powder to the dal.

dal palak served with rice and aloo sabzi in a pink color bowl

Useful Tips

  • You can make the entire recipe in Instant Pot. Follow all the steps on sauté mode, except adding spinach. Pressure cook the lentils for 8 minutes on high pressure. Once natural pressure is released, open the pot and press the sauté button again. Add spinach and let it simmer on sauté mode for 2 to 3 minutes until the leaves wilt.
  • Leftovers can be refrigerated and it is best to consume within 2 to 3 days. Dal will thicken a lot in the fridge, so add some water while re-heating.
  • You can use ghee in place of oil in this recipe. That will add flavor to the dal, however use oil if you wish to make this recipe vegan.

Other Favorite Dal Recipes

  • Can’t beat a good Dal Tadka and this recipe is perfect for just about any day!
  • A little sour, little sweet and little spicy, this Gujarati Dal is an explosion of flavors.
  • Hearty and comforting Chana Dal is one of my favorite dals of all time.

This post has been updated from the recipe archives, first published in February 2016. I have updated the recipe with better photos, videos and made slight modifications to make it simpler. If you would still like to refer to the old recipe, just add tomatoes to it after adding the garlic-ginger. You can also email me to get a pdf of the older recipe if you prefer.

If you’ve tried this Recipe then don’t forget to rate the recipe! You can also follow me on FacebookInstagram to see what’s latest in my kitchen and on YouTube to watch my latest videos.

Dal Palak (Spinach Dal)

spinach dal served in a copper kadai
Manali
Wholesome Dal Palak (Spinach Dal) is lightly spiced, packed with spinach and makes a very comforting meal with a side of rice. It is also vegan.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Entree
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 218 kcal

Ingredients

To pressure cook

  • 1/2 cup toor dal/arhar dal also known as split pigeon peas lentil
  • 1/2 cup masoor dal also known as split red lentil
  • 3 + 1/2 cups water 24 oz + 4 oz, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

For the tempering

  • 1 tablespoon oil I used avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing asafoetida
  • 4-5 large garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 inch ginger chopped
  • 1-2 green chili chopped, to taste
  • 3-4 cups chopped spinach
  • half lemon juice of or add more to taste
  • garam masala to sprinkle, optional

Instructions
 

  • To the inner steel bowl of the Instant pot add the toor dal (pigeon pea lentil) and masoor dal (split red lentils) and 3 cups water.
    Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Give a stir. Close the lid and press the pressure cook or manual button. Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes with the pressure valve in the sealing position. Let the pressure release naturally.
    Stove-top pressure cooker: cook on high heat for 2 whistles, then lower the flame and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes or until the lentils are completely cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.
  • This step is optional, but if you want you can blend the dal a little at this point using a wooden spatula or immersion blender. This way you won't have any dal particles in your final spinach dal but as I mentioned, it's completely optional. Set this aside.
  • Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Once hot add cumin seeds and let it sizzle for a few seconds. Then add 1/4 teaspoon hing and stir.
  • Add the chopped ginger, garlic and green chili. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the garlic and ginger start turning brown in color.
  • Then add in 3 to 4 cups of chopped spinach. Cook the spinach for 3 to 4 minutes stirring often. The leaves will wilt as the spinach cooks and volume of the spinach will reduce.
  • Add the boiled dal into the pot now. Give a good stir until everything is well combined. Now, let the dal come to a boil. I added additional 1/2 cup water at this point as the dal was too thick for my liking.
  • Let it simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, then squeeze in some lemon juice. You can also sprinkle some garam masala if you like at this point. I didn't add anything and kept it simple. Serve hot with rice or roti.

Video

Notes

  • You can make the entire recipe in Instant Pot. Follow all the steps on sauté mode, except adding spinach. Pressure cook the lentils for 8 minutes on high pressure. Once natural pressure is released, open the pot and press the sauté button again. Add spinach and let it simmer on sauté mode for 2 to 3 minutes until the leaves wilt.
  • Leftovers can be refrigerated and it is best to consume within 2 to 3 days. Dal will thicken a lot in the fridge, so add some water while re-heating.
  • You can use ghee in place of oil. It adds to flavor of the dal but then the dal won’t be vegan.
  • Use gluten-free hing or skip hing to make this recipe gluten-free.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 218kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 13gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 506mgPotassium: 619mgFiber: 16gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 2135IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 67mgIron: 5mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @cookwithmanali or tag #cookwithmanali!

 

62 thoughts on “Dal Palak (Spinach Dal)

  1. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! Is your nutrition information for the whole batch that the recipe yields? Or is it per serving?

  2. Can this recipe be made without an Instapot which I don’t have and don’t need any more appliances to keep track of and find room for. Also I’m very confused about the different kinds of lentils and which to use, green, yellow, brown, red, black, for what recipes. A primer on all the types would be helpful. And can I please get the old 2016 recipe? Thank you! We love our delicious recipes!

    1. you can cook the dal on stove-top. you should soak in for 3-4 hours before cooking and then cook with water, salt and turmeric on stove-top until it’s completely cooked. Unfortunately in India no one cooks dal without pressure cooker and since I have never seen that in my house, I have never used stove-top to pressure cook my dals either. I emailed you the older recipe.

  3. It looks so easy! I will try it soon once I get some toor/arhar dal. I’d love to try this variation of dal. I am a bit confused about the naming of things right now-I thought toor dal was the same as the small red lentils-which is what I have and the package is labeled toor. I haven’t seen Arhar dal or pigeon peas yet – although from the video- it looks a little like small green lentils which is what I have and it’s just labeled green lentils. I normally use these for lentil soup. Are they the same thing? Would it be possible to perhaps have a small blog about the names and types of pulses you use in the cuisine? That would be amazingly helpful! Thank you! Just another small insignificant question? Why is the dish considered an entree? Is it normally served first before a main dish which is more substantial? I am compiling a list of favourite dishsd and was going to put this one under “Main” but I see you have it as an “entree” which I thought is like a starter or appetizer. I am a bit confused about this now-haha!

    1. Hi Shirley, I will do a post on Indian lentils. The lentils used here are different. Small red lentils are known as masoor dal in Hindi. It’s a main dish and served along with rice usually in India or a as a part of meal along with roti (bread), sabzi (curry).

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