I’m always looking for ways to sneak in more iron packed spinach and this is an easy way. In traditional Gujarati thalis, dal is served with different shaaks such as this Peas and Cauliflower shaak along with roti and rice.
Spinach dal is a quick, one pot meal that does not require too many fresh ingredients. It can be made in under thirty minutes. I outline below several ways to make spinach dal but the quickest is the way outlined in the recipe card (using Instant Pot).
There are many types of dals you can use in this but I use toor dal for dal palak. Toor dal is known as pigeon peas in English and tuvar dal in Hindi. It is a type of lentil. Specifically, split pigeon peas are used. Split pigeon peas cook quicker than whole pigeon peas so make sure you use this specific kind! It is a beige-yellow legume.
- It is packed with protein (split pigeon peas) and iron (spinach)
- Vegan and uses oil in the place of ghee
- It is gluten free as well.
What is dal palak?
Dal is a hearty, nutritious popular part of Indian meals. It is commonly served for all Indian meals. It is similar to a spiced lentil soup. There are many types of dal. Some variations can be made thicker or thinner, dependent on preference. It is primarily made of legumes and spices.
This version in particular is spinach dal and uses toor dal. Spinach adds an iron rich element to this protein packed dish.
Palak means spinach in Hindi. Hence, this is spinach dal!
What is dal?
Dal refers to both: (1) lentils: pulse split in half – there are various types of dals (2) the dish itself – such as this dal palak (spinach dal)
There are many types of pulses (dals). Some include:
- Split pigeon peas (toor dal)
- Masoor dal (red lentils)
- Chana dal (split bengal gram)
- Moong dal (split green gram)
You can substitute masoor dal for toor dal in this recipe.
Ingredients for dal palak
- Toor dal (known as split pigeon peas)
- Garlic cloves
- Garam masala
- Crushed tomatoes
- Green chili
- Jeera (cumin seeds)
- Red chili powder
- Cumin powder
- Coriander powder
- Hing (Asofoetida)
- Cilantro (optional, garnish)
How do you make dal palak (spinach dal) in an Instant Pot?
High level with walk through below, details in recipe card:
What goes with spinach dal?
Spinach dal is commonly served with rice. It can also be served with roti, naan or other Indian flatbreads such as bhakri. I prefer it plan, just a personal preference!
Want to make it Jain-friendly?
Skip onion and garlic and add extra teaspoon of hing
What if I don’t have an Instant Pot?
You can use a pot on the stove or a stove top pressure cooker. I’ve outlined the key points for these methods in the recipe card.
What’s your favorite one pot meal? Maybe it will be this one after you give it a try!
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Palak Dal (Spinach Dal)
- Instant Pot or
- Pressure cooker or
- Plain old pot!
- 3 tbsp oil
- 2 cups toor dal split pigeon peas, tuvar dal, can substitute masoor dal
- 2.5 cup chopped spinach
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 inch ginger minced
- 2 green chillies chopped (keep pieces bigger if you want to take out before serving)
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 tsp red chili powder lal mirch
- 2 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp hing (asafoetida)
- 1 tbsp dhana jeeru powder (coriander seed powder and cumin seed powder) Sold as a mix. If you don't have mix can use: 3/4 tbsp coriander seed powder, 1/4 tbsp cumin seed powder
- 2 tsp sugar
- 4-5 stems chopped cilantro optional, garnish
Instant Pot Method
- Wash lentils and prep/chop veggies (spinach, onion, garlic, ginger and green chilies).
- Add oil to pot. Put Instant Pot in SAUTE mode. Once oil is hot, add in cumin seeds. Once begin to sizzle, add hing (asafoetida) then onions. Cook for 1 minute, stirring onions.
- Next, add in green chilies, ginger and garlic. Add in that order as garlic burns quickest. Stir and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add in crushed tomatoes and spices (red chili powder, salt, turmeric, cumin/coriander powder, garam masala and sugar). Mix.
- Add in dal (washed lentils)
- Add water. Dal should have about 2 inches of water above it. Cancel SAUTE mode. Turn on PRESSURE COOK mode and cook for 5 minutes and do quick release.
- Add chopped spinach and stir thoroughly
- Dal palak (spinach dal is ready to eat!)
Stovetop (using pot)
- Heat oil in pan. Add in cumin seeds. Once they sizzle add in asofoetida then onions. Cook 1 minute, stirring. Add in green chilies, ginger and garlic in that order. Cook 1 minute stirring again.
- Add in crushed tomatoes and spices. Mix.
- Add in washed lentils and water. Bring to boil. After it reaches boiling point, cook on medium- high for 20 minutes until lentils are cooked.
- Put on low. Add in chopped spinach and mix. Cover and turn off heat. Spinach dal is ready.
Pressure Cooker (stovetop)
- Follow same instructions except use pressure cooker.
- After adding in dal and water close pressure cooker.
- Cook until 2 whistles. Then let cooker cool down and pressure is released. Spinach dal is ready.