easy dal palak (creamy lentils with spinach)

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Dal Palak is an easy and nutritious recipe of spinach with pigeon pea lentils.

dal palak recipe, palak dal

It is also one of the popular Indian lentil recipes as it combines the goodness of the pigeon pea lentils (known as arhar dal or tuvar dal in Hindi) as well as spinach (called as palak in Hindi).

In this post, I am sharing 2 delicious variations of dal palak.

  • Dal Palak – No Onion No Garlic Version. Made in a stovetop pressure cooker.
  • Vegan Dal Palak – Made with onions and garlic in an Instant pot.

Both the recipes are shared with step by step photos and taste good. So you can make either of them depending upon the gadgets you have. My personal favorite is the no onion no garlic version.

About Dal Palak  (No Onion No Garlic Version)

There are many ways of making Palak ki dal. This delicious recipe is a very simple and easy one and won’t take much of your time.

Palak and dal go very well together. In India we do add veggies to dal and spinach dal is one of those recipes. I have adapted this dal palak recipe from a friend who would make sumptuous food.

Being a meditator, he would never add onion, garlic and chilies to his food. Whilst once at his home, he made this dal for us. I thought the dal would be very bland without onions and no garlic, but I was wrong.

The dal palak was so good. It had the subtle aroma of ghee tempered with cumin and a gingery taste plus creamy and soft. Onions and garlic have a strong flavor and taste. 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 to this dal. It goes well with basmati rice and even soft roti or chapatis.

Our friend used to make this dal palak with basically 2 lentils:

  1. Tuvar dal (split pigeon peas or arhar dal) and
  2. Masoor dal (pink lentil).

You can use both these lentils or use only tuvar dal. I have also added some chopped green chilies and red chili powder to the dal. The chilies just enhance the flavor and taste of the dal without making it spicy or hot.

For tempering, you could use oil, but for better taste and flavor use ghee.

How to make dal palak (no onion no garlic)

1: Pick and rinse the dal. Pressure cook the lentils with turmeric for 5 to 6 whistles till the lentils become soft and mushy.

dal for palak dal recipe

2: Wash 2 cups chopped spinach leaves. Chop them finely and keep aside.

wash palak leaves for palak dal recipe

3: In a pan or kadai, heat 2 or 3 tbsp ghee or oil. Fry 1 tsp cumin seeds. For a vegan spinach dal use oil. You can use any neutral tasting oil.

heat ghee for palak dal recipe

4: When the cumin seeds sizzle, add 1 inch chopped ginger. Fry for a few seconds until the raw aroma of ginger goes away.

ginger for making dal palak recipe

5: Add 1 to 2 chopped green chilies and fry for few seconds.

chilies for dal palak recipe

6: Add 2 cups chopped spinach leaves. Apart from spinach, you can also add amaranth leaves or fenugreek leaves and even kale.

add palak for dal palak recipe

7: Now add ½ tsp red chili powder and ¼ tsp asafoetida (hing). Mix these with the spinach and saute the spinach for some minutes stirring in between till the spinach leaves wilt. Skip asafoetida if you don’t have.

add masala powder for dal palak recipe

8: Now add the mashed lentils. The green you see in the lentils is the spinach. I was using the same spoon for sauteing the spinach and mashing the lentils….. One spoon less for me to wash 🙂

mash - making dal palak recipe

9: When the spinach softens and becomes dry like shown in the pic below.

soften palak for dal palak recipe

10: Then its time to add the mashed lentils.

add mashed dal for palak dal recipe

11: Mix the cooked lentils with the spinach. If you want a very thick dal with roti, you will stop at this stage. If you want to stop here at this step then add salt as per your taste. Mix well and simmer the dal for 1-2 minutes. Keep stirring continuously.

However, if you want a creamy, smooth dal then continue to the further steps below and don’t add the salt now.

mix palak and dal - making dal palak recipe

12: Add water to the dal. The quantity of water will depend on how much thick or thin you want the dal palak to be.

add water to dal palak recipe

13: Add salt and mix. Simmer for 5 to 6 minutes.

dal palak, palak dal recipe

14: Serve the dal palak hot with rice or roti and a side vegetable dish or salad or raita.

dal palak, spinach dal recipe, palak dal recipe

Few more dal recipes for you

This recipe post is from the archives (Feb 2012) and has been republished and updated on 6th June 2020.

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dal palak recipe, palak dal recipe, spinach dal recipe

Easy Dal Palak

4.88 from 25 votes
Dal palak is easy and simple to make recipe of spinach with pigeon pea lentils.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Cuisine Indian
Course: Main Course

Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup tuvar dal (pigeon pea lentils or arhar dal)
  • ¼ cup masoor dal (pink lentils)
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 1 or 2 green chilies , chopped
  • 1 inch ginger , chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • 2 to 2.5 cups water, for pressure cooking the dals
  • ½ to 1 cup water, to be added to the dal in the last step
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ghee or oil
  • salt as required

Instructions

pressure cooking dal

  • Pick and wash the lentils. Take the lentils in a pressure cooker with turmeric powder. 
  • Add 2 to 2.5 cups of water and pressure cook for 5 to 6 whistles or till the dals become soft and mushy. 
  • Mash the dals and keep aside.

making dal palak

  • In a pan, heat ghee. Fry the cumin and then add the chopped ginger and fry till the raw aroma of ginger goes away. 
  • Now add the chopped chili and fry for half a minute. Fry for a minute.
  • Now add the chopped spinach. Add red chili powder and asafoetida (hing).
  • Saute for some minutes till the spinach becomes soft and stops releasing water on a medium flame.
  • Now add the mashed lentils now. Mix the lentils with the spinach.
  • Add water around ½ cup to 1 cup depending on how thick or thin you want the dal to be.
  • Finally, add salt and simmer the dal for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Serve dal palak hot with rice and a side vegetable dish or salad or raita.

Video

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About Instant Pot Dal Palak

It is an easy and nutritious vegan recipe of spinach with pigeon pea lentils made in an Instant Pot.

Spinach has a high nutritional value and is extremely rich in antioxidants, iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K.

instant pot dal palak in a light aqua green bowl placed on a white crocheted napkin on a brown-beige wooden board

Many people are not fond of greens like spinach, fenugreek leaves, amaranth leaves and that is especially true for kids. But when we mix the greens with dals or legumes then the dish not only becomes tasty but also nutritious.

In this recipe, you can substitute spinach (palak) with amaranth leaves (chaulai) or fenugreek leaves (methi) and even kale. I have made a kale dal too.

You can also use moong lentils or a combination of moong+pigeon pea lentils or red lentils (masoor dal)+pigeon pea lentils.

Serve Palak Dal with roti, paratha or steamed basmati rice. It will also go well with cumin rice or ghee rice.

instant pot palak dal in a light aqua green bowl placed on a white crocheted napkin on a brown-beige wooden board

How to make Instant Pot Dal Palak

1. Pick and then rinse ½ cup pigeon pea lentils (tuvar dal or arhar dal) a couple of times in water. Drain all the water. Keep aside. Also chop onions, tomatoes, crush ginger and garlic and slit green chillies.

rinsing pigeon pea lentils

2. Press the sauté switch on normal on the Instant Pot and set the timer to 10 or 12 minutes.

pressing the sauté button in IP
3. Add 2 tablespoons oil and let the oil become hot. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon cumin seeds. Fry them till splutter and become fragrant.

cumin seeds spluttering

4. Add ⅓ cup chopped onions. You can also use ⅓ cup sliced shallots instead.

adding chopped onions

5. Stirring often sauté the onions till they turn translucent or light golden.

sautéed onions

6. Now add 1 teaspoon crushed ginger or ginger paste, 2 medium crushed garlic (with or without their peels) and 1 to 2 green chillies (sliced or chopped). Sauté for 4 to 5 seconds till the raw aroma of ginger and garlic goes away. You can use the less mode while sautéing.

sautéing ginger, garlic and green chillies

7. Next, add ⅓ cup chopped tomatoes. Mix very well.

mixing tomatoes

8. Sauté till the tomatoes soften and become pulpy. Stir often when sautéing tomatoes.

sautéed tomatoes
9. Next add a pinch of asafoetida (hing), ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, ¼ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper and ½ teaspoon coriander powder. For a spicy dal, you can increase the number of green chilies and red chili powder.

adding ground spice powders

10. Mix very well.

mixing spice powders

11. Add the rinsed pigeon pea lentils.

adding rinsed pigeon pea lentils (tuvar dal)

12. Mix very well and deglaze removing any bits or pieces of ingredients stuck to the bottom of the pot.

mixing and delgazing

13. Pour 1.5 cups of water. Mix very well and deglaze if required.

adding water

14. Use the pressure cooking mode and set the timer to 15 minutes on high pressure.

setting pressure cook mode and timer to 15 minutes

15. Meanwhile, when the lentils are getting pressure cooked,  rinse 75 to 100 grams spinach leaves in a colander. Chop them finely and keep aside. You will need 1.5 cups of chopped spinach. Use tender spinach leaves. 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.

chopped spinach

16. When the pressure cooking is complete, allow a natural pressure release (NPR) for 10 to 12 minutes. If there is still pressure in the Instant Pot, then lift the valve for the steam to be released. Open the lid and check if the lentils have cooked and softened. They should be mushy.

cooked mushy lentils

17. Mash the lentils with a spoon.

lentils have been mashed

18. Add the chopped spinach, ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder, ½ teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and salt as per taste to the cooked lentils. Both garam masala and kasuri methi are optional and you can skip these.

adding chopped spinach, dry fenugreek leaves, garam masala and salt to mashed lentils

19. Stir and mix again.

mixing everything

20. Press the sauté button on normal and set the time to 6 or 7 minutes.

Pressing the sauté button in IP and setting time for 6 minutes

21. Begin to simmer the lentils. Simmer till the spinach leaves wilt. This takes about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir often.

simmering till spinach wilts

22. Once the spinach leaves have wilted, the dal is ready to be served. Check the consistency. Add ¼ to ½ cup hot water if the dal becomes thick. If you prefer a thicker dal, simmer for a few more minutes. For a thin dal, you can add some hot water. This recipe yields a palak dal having a medium consistency. At this step, you can even drizzle  ½ to 1 teaspoon lemon juice in the dal.

instant pot dal palak is ready to be served

23. Serve Palak Dal with roti or lachha paratha or basmati rice or cumin rice.

instant pot spinach dal in a light aqua green bowl placed on a white crocheted napkin on a brown-beige wooden board

This recipe post is from the archives and has been recently updated. 

More Instant Pot Recipes:

instant pot dal palak

Instant Pot Dal Palak

4.85 from 19 votes
Instant Pot Palak Dal is an easy to prepare delicious and healthy pigeon pea lentils (tuvar dal) with spinach (palak), onions, tomatoes and spices.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins

Cuisine North Indian
Course: Main Course

Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil - can also use ghee (clarified butter)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • cup chopped onions or sliced shallots or 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 inch ginger - crushed or 1 teaspoon crushed ginger
  • 2 to 3 medium garlic cloves - crushed with or without peels
  • 1 to 2 green chillies or 1 to 2 serrano peppers, sliced or chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder or cayenne pepper or paprika
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (hing) - optional
  • cup chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup pigeon pea lentils (tuvar dal or arhar dal ), 120 grams
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1.5 cups finely chopped spinach or 75 to 100 grams spinach
  • ½ teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) - optional
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala - optional
  • salt as required
  • a few drops of lemon juice - optional

Instructions

  • Pick and rinse pigeon pea lentils (tuvar dal or arhar dal) a couple of times in water. Drain all the water. Keep aside.

  • Press the sauté switch on normal on the Instant Pot and set the timer to 10 or 12 minutes.
 Add oil and let it become hot. You can also use ghee or butter instead of oil.
  • Add cumin seeds and fry them till splutter and become fragrant.
  • Add chopped onions or sliced shallots and stirring often sauté till translucent or light brown.
  • Now add crushed ginger or ginger paste, crushed garlic and green chilies (sliced or chopped).
  • Saute for 4 to 5 seconds till the raw aroma of ginger and garlic goes away. You can also use the less mode of the IP while sautéing.
  • Next, add ⅓ cup chopped tomatoes and sauté till they soften and become pulpy. Stir often when sauteing tomatoes.
  • Then add a pinch of asafoetida, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and coriander powder. For a spicy dal, you can increase the quantity of green chillies and red chilli powder.
  • Mix very well.
  • Add the rinsed pigeon pea lentils and mix them very well. Deglaze removing any bits or pieces of ingredients stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  • Pour 1.5 cups water. Mix very well. Deglaze if required.
  • Use the pressure cooking mode and set the timer to 15 minutes on high pressure.
  • Meanwhile, when the lentils are getting pressure cooked, rinse the spinach leaves in a colander. Drain all the water. Chop them finely and keep aside.
  • When the pressure cooking is complete, allow a natural pressure release for 10 to 12 minutes. If there is still pressure in the Instant Pot, then lift the valve for the steam to be released. Open the lid and check if the lentils have cooked and softened. They should be mushy.
  • Mash the lentils with a spoon.
  • Add the chopped spinach, garam masala powder, kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and salt as per taste to the cooked lentils. Kasuri methi is optional and you can skip it.
  • Stir and mix again.
  • Press the sauté button on normal and set the timer to 6 or 7 minutes.
  • Begin to simmer the lentils till the spinach leaves wilt. This takes about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir often.
  • Once the spinach leaves have wilted, the dal is ready to be served. Check the consistency. Add ¼ to ½ cup hot water if the dal becomes thick. If you prefer a thicker dal, simmer for a few more minutes. For a thin dal, you can add some hot water. This recipe yields a palak dal having a medium consistency. At this step, you can even drizzle ½ to 1 teaspoon lemon juice in the dal.
  • Serve Dal Palak with steamed rice, cumin rice, roti or bread.

Notes

  1. On 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: When fresh spinach is not available, replace with frozen spinach.
  3. Cooking Lentils: When cooking lentils, always use lentils which are fresh and in their shelf period. Aged or old lentils will take more time too cook. In this case, if the lentils are undercooked, then add some more water and continue to pressure cook in the Instant Pot for 10 or 15 minutes more.
  4. Different Lentils: The same recipe can be made wholly or in a half-half ratio with lentils like - mung lentils, red lentils and split chickpeas. For split chickpeas, soak them in water for 30 minutes before pressure cooking. 
  5. Consistency: You can make the dal thin or thick by adding less or more water once the dal is cooked. When pressure cooking the dal, add the 1.5 cups water as mentioned in the recipe. 
  6. Taste & Flavor: Increase the green chillies, garam masala powder and red chilli powder for a spicy dal. For a less spicy version you can decrease these spices. A bit if lemon juice added to the dal gives a nice tang. 

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Calories: 167kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 7gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 347mgPotassium: 341mgFiber: 8gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 1195IUVitamin B1 (Thiamine): 1mgVitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 1mgVitamin B3 (Niacin): 1mgVitamin B6: 1mgVitamin C: 9mgVitamin E: 3mgVitamin K: 57µgCalcium: 33mgVitamin B9 (Folate): 141µgIron: 2mgMagnesium: 41mgPhosphorus: 121mgZinc: 1mg

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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.

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73 Comments

  1. Thank you for this recipe and your website.
    Made dal palak for the first time today and it turned out perfectly.

    Your recipes with visual aids (photos and /or video) make it so easy to understand for me.

    Thank you again.5 stars

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