Dal palak recipe or spinach dal with stovetop & instant pot instructions. Dal refers to lentils and palak to spinach. Dal palak is nothing but lentils cooked with spinach & tempered with basic Indian spices. It is a healthy, delicious and one of the most made palak recipes in Indian homes. This simple protein rich dish is served with plain rice, chapati/ roti or different kinds of bhakri (flatbreads).
It is made in almost all regions of India with slight variations. Each home has their own recipe to make it. Apart from spinach, various ingredients like onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and whole spices are used based on their choice.
My recipe to make spinach dal uses minimal ingredients yet it turns out super delicious with full of flavors. This recipe is kids’ friendly if you cut down or skip the chilies.
I always feel dal palak tastes best when made with basic ingredients otherwise the buttery taste & flavor of palak is lost.
You can find the instant pot instructions in the recipe card below.
1. Add half cup dal to a pot or pressure cooker and rinse it well a few times or until the water runs clear. I use toor dal and moong dal in equal proportions. You can use any kind of dal you prefer.
The taste of dal palak enhances with the use of moong dal, so even a little is enough for that great taste. You can optionally chop a large tomato and add it to the dal.
If you do not own a cooker, you can soak the dal for about 15 mins to 1 hour to quicken the process.
2. Pour 1¼ cups water to the cooker and secure the lid. Pressure cook on a medium heat for 2 whistles. If cooking in a pot, keep adding more water and cook until the dal turns soft.
3. While the lentils cook, clean spinach and rinse it well a few times. I usually spray some vinegar and sprinkle salt over the leaves first. Leave them for 5 to 10 mins. Then rinse them off in a large pot a few times. This gets rid of all the pesticide residue and any bugs.
Drain the leaves to a colander. When the water drains, chop them. Also chop 1 to 2 green chilies and some ginger garlic. We need 1 tsp of the same.
4. When the pressure releases naturally, open the cooker and mash the dal slightly. You can skip mashing if you like to retain the same texture. It must be soft cooked and not remain al dente.
5. Heat 1½ to 2 tablespoons ghee in a kadai/ pan. To keep the recipe vegan, you can use oil. When the ghee turns hot, add ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds and 1 to 2 broken dried red chilies (optional).
6. When the seeds begin to crackle, add 1 teaspoon chopped ginger garlic and 1 to 2 chopped green chilies. We are not using red chilli powder in this recipe so use enough green chilies for the heat. Saute just for a minute and add 1/8 teaspoon hing.
7. Add 2 cups chopped spinach/ palak. You can use more or less to suit your taste.
8. Saute for 3 to 4 mins on a medium heat. Spinach will wilt and begin to sweat.
How to make dal palak
9. Add the cooked dal, 1/8 teaspoon turmeric and half teaspoon salt. Mix well.
10. Pour water as needed to bring the dal palak to a consistency and cook until the spinach wilts completely. Palak doesn’t require long cooking, so a few minutes will be good enough. If you like to use amchur you can add it at this stage. I prefer lemon juice so I don’t add it.
11. When it reaches the desired consistency, turn off the stove. Taste test and add more salt. When the dal palak cools down slightly, squeeze in lemon juice if you have not used amchur. Do not squeeze the lemon over boiling hot dal. If you have used oil for tempering, add a tbsp of ghee now.
Serve dal palak with rice or roti or naan.
Tips to make
To make dal palak, I have used toor dal also known as split pigeon peas and moong dal also known as split skinned mung beans. You can use any lentils that you prefer.
Spices: Cumin and dried red chilies are the only 2 whole spices I have used. You may add a pinch of mustard seeds if you like.
Ground spices: I have not used any ground spices here. If you prefer you may add a pinch of garam masala along with turmeric. But in my opinion, this spinach dal does not need it at all.
Tempering it in desi ghee or butter enhances the flavor and aroma of the dish. If you are a vegan, just use any cooking oil.
Preparing palak for any palak recipe: Fill a large pot with water. Pluck each palak leaf and check for infestations etc. Add them to the pot. Allow them to rest for 3 to 5 mins. Repeat the rinse. I usually spray vinegar & salt over palak & leave for a while before rinsing them.
Dal palak recipe | Spinach dal | How to make dal palak
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
Ingredients for dal palak
- ½ cup dal ( lentils) ( I use ¼ cup toor dal & ¼ cup moong dal)
- 1¼ cup water or as needed (1¾ cups for IP)
- 1 medium tomato (chopped (optional))
- 2 cups palak (100 grams spinach fine chopped) (use as desired)
- 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
- ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 dried red chilli (broken, optional)
- 1 teaspoon ginger (or 1 clove garlic or both chopped)
- 1 to 2 green chilies chopped (substitute ½ tsp chilli powder)
- 1 pinch hing (asafoetida) (optional)
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- ½ teaspoon kasuri methi (optional, dried fenugreek leaves)
- 1 tablespoon Lemon juice (or 1 tsp amchur / dry mango powder)
- Add dal to a bowl or pot. Rinse it very well a few times until water runs clear.
- If using tomato, chop it and add to the dal.
- Pour 1¼ cups water and cook in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles on a medium heat. You can also cook the dal in a pot adding more water as needed until they soften.
- If using instant pot, place the bowl and pressure cook for 8 to 9 mins.
- When the pressure releases naturally, remove the dal and mash it to suit your liking.
How to make dal palak
- Heat a pot with ghee or butter. Add cumin and dried red chilies.
- When the cumin begins to splutter add ginger, garlic and green chilies. Saute well for a min. Add hing.
- Transfer chopped palak or spinach. Saute for 3 to 4 mins on a medium heat until the leaves wilt.
- Add cooked dal, salt and turmeric. Mix and check the consistency. If needed pour some water.
- Next mix well and cook on a medium heat until palak softens. Add kasuri methi (optional) and switch off when spinach dal reaches the desired consistency.
- When the spinach dal cools down slightly, add lemon juice and mix. Serve dal palak with rice or roti.
Instant pot spinach dal
- Press SAUTE button on the Instant pot and pour ghee to the steel insert.
- Add cumin, dried red chilies and green chilies. When the cumin seeds splutter, add tomatoes (optional) and saute for 1 minute.
- Then add dal, turmeric and salt. If you prefer to use chilli powder as a substitute to green chilies, add it now.
- Press CANCEL button. Pour 1¾ cups water and deglaze with a wooden spatula to release any bits of food stuck at the bottom.
- Optionally you can also place a trivet and keep your rice bowl over it & cover.
- Secure the Instant pot with the lid. Press PRESSURE COOK button (high pressure) and set the timer to 10 mins.
- When the dal palak is done, IP will beep. Wait for the natural pressure release for at least 15 mins. Release the rest manually. Remove the rice bowl.
- Add the chopped spinach to the dal and give a good mix. Press SAUTE button and cook for 2 mins. Palak will just take 2 mins to cook. If needed you may add another ¼ cup hot water to adjust the consistency.
- Press CANCEL and sprinkle kasuri methi (optional). Cover the IP until you serve. This helps spinach to cook completely with the residual heat in the IP.
- Taste test and add more salt if needed. When the spinach dal cools a bit, add lemon juice. Serve with rice or roti.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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