Dal Palak Recipe | Easy Spinach Dal

Step by StepJump to Recipe

One seasonal favorite, another a classic source of plant-based proteins, especially in the diets of vegetarians and vegans. When both these come together in a dish, it is just a celebration of flavors for the palate! Yes, that’s what is happening in this easy-peasy and simple, yet tasty and comforting Dal Palak recipe. This Spinach Dal made with pigeon pea lentils or yellow lentils (tuvar dal), red lentils (masoor dal) and winter special fresh spinach (palak) is both a different and nutritious way of including dal in your diet.

dal palak in a white bowl.

Dal Palak or Spinach Dal

Cooking various lentils or dals with fresh seasonal greens is a common practice in Indian households. This Dal Palak is one of the most popular Lentil Recipes in Indian cuisine. It combines the goodness of arhar or tuvar dal (pigeon pea lentils), masoor dal (red lentils) and fresh palak (spinach leaves) that the winter season brings.

There are many ways of making Dal Palak. In this post, I have shared the no onion, no garlic variation of the Dal Palak. This delicious recipe without onion and garlic added to it, is a very simple and easy one and won’t take much of your time.

Like I mentioned earlier, in India, we do add vegetables and leafy greens to our lentil or dal-based dishes. This wholesome Dal Palak is one of those prominent ones, especially during the winters as this is the season of fresh spinach.

Spinach has a high nutritional value and is extremely rich in antioxidants, iron, calcium, vitamins and minerals. Many people and most of the kids are not really fond of greens like spinach, fenugreek leaves, amaranth leaves, etc. But when we mix these greens with dals or legumes, then the dish not only becomes tasty but also healthy.

This Dal Palak is a great way of getting your fussy kids to consume their share of these lovely greens of the season. In this particular recipe, you can substitute the spinach (palak) with amaranth leaves (chaulai) or fenugreek leaves (methi) and even kale. I have made a kale dal too.

Spinach and dal a.k.a lentils go very well together. I have adapted this Dal Palak recipe from a friend, who is as enthusiastic as me, when it comes to cooking, eating and feeding sumptuous food.

Being a meditator, he would never add onion, garlic and chilies to his food. Once at his home, he made this dal for us. I thought it would taste bland without onions and garlic, but I was wrong.

The Dal Palak was so good. It had the subtle aroma of the ghee, cumin and ginger tempering plus was creamy and soft. You can use oil too, for the tempering. However, for a better taste, use ghee.

Onions and garlic have a strong flavor. I am sure this dal would also taste great with onions and garlic added to it. There are no heavy spices like garam masala added in this preparation.

Our friend also used 2 lentils in the Dal Palak recipe – tuvar or arhar dal (split pigeon peas/yellow lentils) and masoor dal (red lentils/orange lentils). You can use both these lentils or make it just with tuvar dal as well.

I have also added some chopped green chilies and red chili powder. The chilies just enhance the taste of the dal without making it spicy or hot.

You can serve and relish Dal Palak with roti, chapatis, phulka, parathas or steamed basmati rice. They also pair well with Jeera Rice and Ghee Rice.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Dal Palak

Pressure Cook Lentils and Prep Spinach

1. Pick and rinse ¼ cup tuvar dal (yellow lentils) and ¼ cup masoor dal (orange lentils) a few times in water.

Add the rinsed lentils to a 2-liter stovetop pressure cooker. Also, add ½ teaspoon turmeric powder and 1.5 cups water.

tuvar dal, masoor dal, turmeric powder and water added to pressure cooker.

2. On medium heat, pressure cook the lentils for 10 to 11 minutes or 7 to 8 whistles or until the lentils become soft and mushy.

Open the lid only when the pressure settles naturally and check the cooked lentils. Mash lightly with a spoon.

pressure cooked lentils.

3. While the lentils are cooking, prep the spinach. First rinse some spinach leaves thoroughly in water a few times. Drain all the water and set it aside.

Chop the rinsed spinach finely and measure. You will need 2 cups of chopped spinach leaves.

Set the chopped palak aside. You can choose to add more quantities of spinach if you prefer.

chopped palak for making dal palak.

Make Dal Palak

4. In a pan or kadai, heat 2 tablespoons ghee or oil. Fry 1 teaspoon cumin seeds on low heat until they splutter.

For a vegan spinach dal, use oil. You can use any neutral tasting oil.

frying cumin seeds in hot ghee in a pan.

5. When the cumin seeds are spluttering, add 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger and ½ to ½ to 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies.

Fry for some seconds or till the raw aroma of the ginger goes away.

finely chopped ginger and chopped green chilies added to pan.

6. Add the 2 cups of finely chopped spinach and mix it with the rest of the fried ingredients.

Apart from spinach, you can also add amaranth leaves or fenugreek leaves and even kale.

chopped spinach added and mixed with other ingredients.

7. Sauté the spinach for 4 to 5 minutes on low heat, stirring in between, till the spinach leaves soften and wilt.

sautéing spinach.

8. Now, add ¼ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder and ¼ teaspoon asafoetida (hing). Mix these spices with the spinach and sauté for half a minute.

Skip asafoetida, if you don’t have it. But note that there will be a difference in the taste and flavor of the dal without asafoetida.

spice powders added to spinach.

9. Now, add the mashed lentils. Season with salt as needed.

mashed lentils and salt added to spinach.

10. Add ½ to 1 cup water to the spinach dal. Mix thoroughly.

The quantity of water will depend on how much thick or thin you want the consistency to be. I added 1 cup water for a medium flowing consistency.

For a thicker consistency skip adding water or add ¼ to ½ cup water. If you want a slightly thinner dal, add more water.

water added to pan.

11. Simmer the dal for 5 to 6 minutes. Stir often, so that the lentils do not stick to the bottom of the pan.

simmering dal palak.

12. Turn off the heat and serve Dal Palak hot with rice or roti and a side vegetable dish, salad or raita. To make a bigger batch you can easily double or triple this recipe.

dal palak served in a white bowl on a dark blue napkin.

Expert Tips

  1. Spinach: You can use the stems if they are tender. If the spinach leaves are too large and the stems are fibrous and dense, then only use the leaves and do not add the stems.
  2. Frozen spinach: In off season or when you don’t have access to fresh spinach, you can prepare these recipes with frozen spinach. Remember to thaw the frozen spinach and then squeeze to remove all of the water from it.
  3. Other leafy greens: In addition to spinach leaves, you can also add fresh fenugreek leaves (methi), fresh amaranth leaves (chaulai) or even kale in these recipes.
  4. Lentils: The same recipe can be made wholly or in a half-half ratio with lentils like – moong lentils, red lentils and chana dal. For chana dal if using them with other lentils, soak them in water for 30 minutes, before pressure cooking. Also add some more water when using chana dal.
  5. Cooking lentils: When cooking lentils, always use lentils which are fresh and in their shelf period. The cooking time is increased with aged or old lentils. In this case, if the lentils are undercooked, then add some more water and continue to pressure cook till done well.
  6. Fats: Dal Palak can be cooked with ghee (clarified butter) or any neutral tasting oil. Of course, for a better and more authentic flavor, use ghee.
  7. Flavor: Increase the green chilies and red chili powder for a spicy dal. For a less spicy version, you can decrease these spices. A bit of lemon juice added to the dal gives a nice tang.
  8. Consistency: You can make the dal thin or thick by adding less or more water once it is cooked.

FAQs

What types of lentils are commonly used in Dal Palak?

Yellow dal (split pigeon peas or tuvar/toor dal) or red lentils (masoor dal) are commonly used in Dal Palak. Both lentils cook relatively quickly and blend well with the spinach.

Can I make Dal Palak with other types of lentils?

Certainly! You can experiment with other lentils like yellow moong lentils (hulled and split moong dal) or a combination of other lentils for variation in texture and flavor.

How do I prepare spinach for Palak Dal?

Rinse the spinach leaves thoroughly in water 3 to 4 times, drain all the water and chop them finely. Both the fresh green leaves and tender stems can be used. For frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze out excess or extra water before using.

Can I make this recipe with onion and garlic?

Yes, you can definitely add onion and garlic in this recipe to enhance the flavors.

Can I make this dal in advance?

You could opt to make Dal Palak in advance if serving on the same day. For optimal nutrition and taste, I would suggest to prepare the spinach dal when you want to consume it, avoiding any make ahead or leftovers.

More Dal Recipes To Try!

Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more vegetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.

dal palak or spinach dal in a white bowl.

Dal Palak Recipe | Easy Spinach Dal

Simple, healthy, yet tasty and comforting this Dal Palak recipe or Spinach Dal is made with pigeon pea lentils (tuvar dal), red lentils (masoor dal) and fresh spinach (palak). The recipe is not overly spiced and is made without onion and garlic as well.
4.93 from 42 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine Indian
Course Main Course
Diet Vegetarian
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

For cooking lentils

  • ¼ cup tuvar dal (hulled and split pigeon pea lentils or arhar dal)
  • ¼ cup masoor dal (hulled and split red lentils)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • 1.5 cups water – for pressure cooking lentils

More ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ginger – finely chopped or 1 inch peeled ginger
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon green chilies – chopped or 1 green chilli
  • 2 cups spinach – finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder or paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
  • ½ to 1 cup water or add as needed
  • salt as required

Instructions
 

Pressure cooking lentils

  • Pick and rinse the lentils a few times in water. Take the lentils in a 2 litre stovetop pressure cooker. Also add turmeric powder and 1.5 cups of water.
  • Pressure cook on medium heat for 10 to 11 minutes or 7 to 8 whistles or until the lentils become soft and mushy. 
  • Open the lid only when the pressure drops naturally in the cooker. Check the lentils.
  • They should be cooked well and softened. Mash the lentils lightly with a spoon and set aside.

Making dal palak

  • In a pan, heat ghee. Keep the heat to a low and fry the cumin seeds first.
  • When they crackle, add the finely chopped ginger and green chillies. Fry for a few seconds or until the raw aroma of ginger goes away. 
  • Now add the finely chopped spinach. Mix the spinach with the rest of the fried spices.
  • Sauté spinach for some minutes until the leaves becomes soft and stops releasing water on a low to medium-low heat.
  • When the spinach leaves are softened, add the kashmiri red chili powder and asafoetida.
  • Mix well and sauté for half a minute on low heat.
  • Add the mashed lentils and salt according to taste. Mix the lentils with the sautéed and softened spinach.
  • Add water around ½ to 1 cup depending on how thick or thin you want the dal to be.
  • Stir to combine and simmer the dal for 5 to 6 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  • Serve Dal Palak hot with rice and a side vegetable dish or salad or raita.

Video

Notes

  • The recipe is made with two kinds of lentils. You could make it only with tur dal or masoor dal. You can also make Dal Palak with only chana dal. For cooking with chana dal add more water and pressure cook for more time. 
  • Use tender, green, fresh spinach. If the stems are tender, you can add them. If they are fibrous or dense, then do not add them.
  • Instead of green chillies, you could also 1 dry red chilli. Remove the seeds and then fry it after the cumin seeds crackle, so that its flavors are released in the dal.
  • Add water as needed to make a thicker dal or a soupy thin dal depending on the consistency to prefer. 
  • This recipe make for four servings. But you can scale it to make for 2 servings or 8 servings. 

Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)

Nutrition Facts
Dal Palak Recipe | Easy Spinach Dal
Amount Per Serving
Calories 135 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 19mg6%
Sodium 720mg31%
Potassium 255mg7%
Carbohydrates 13g4%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 1492IU30%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 9mg11%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 73µg70%
Calcium 37mg4%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 95µg24%
Iron 2mg11%
Magnesium 35mg9%
Phosphorus 75mg8%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Like what you see?

Stay up to date with new recipes and ideas.

This Dal Palak recipe from the archives was first published on Feb 2012. It has been updated and republished on February 2024.

Share This Recipe:

PinWhatsAppPrintShares2.8k

Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

Get My Secrets to Great Indian Food
Sign up for my FREE Beginners Guide to Delicious Indian Cooking

Comments are closed.

81 Comments

  1. One just needs to follow recipe exactly as it is. Then it is really amazing, Very delicious and healthy veg food. Perfect recipe. Thank you, guys for your site. Really !5 stars

See More Comments