Dal palak

Dal Palak Recipe | Spinach Dal (Stovetop & Instant Pot)

By Swasthi on September 2, 2022, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Dal palak is an Indian dish made with spinach, lentils, spices and herbs. This traditional delicious, healthy and protein rich spinach dal is one of the many ways lentils are consumed in India. There is nothing more comforting than a bowl of hot dal palak served with rice, roti or bhakri. Made with minimal amount of spices, this spinach dal is super flavorful, tasty, low-calorie, fiber and protein rich that suits everyone. It can be made in a stovetop cooker, instant pot or even in a sauce pot.


Dal palak

About Dal Palak

Dal palak also known as Spinach dal is a nutritious Indian curry where toor dal (split pigeon peas) is cooked with spinach, spices and herbs. It is a staple across India that is made in many ways and in fact everyone has their own way of cooking it.

Traditionally a lot of people would make dal palak simply by pressure cooking lentils, spices, onions, tomatoes and chopped spinach all at once in a pressure cooker and then just temper it.For some reason my family, especially my kids were never happy with that taste because the spinach gets overcooked. Palak is one of those leafy greens that cooks faster so it can just be included once the lentils are soft cooked.

Dal palak tastes best when made with minimal ingredients otherwise the buttery taste & flavor of cooked palak is lost. So you won’t need a lot of ingredients here.

In this post I share 2 recipes to make dal palak. The first recipe is without tomatoes and the second one is with tomatoes.

A lot of people avoid cooking tomatoes and spinach together due to the high oxalate content in both of them. So if you are on a low oxalate diet, always skip tomatoes in the dal palak.

At home, we believe moderate consumption of tomatoes with spinach is okay for healthy people so I do cook this combination but not very often. I use them together in this dal palak, sambar, palak paneer and a few more dishes.

Since I use tomato in the second recipe, the quantity of spinach used is less. So both the ingredients, tomatoes and spinach are used in moderate quantities. This recipe is our absolute favorite, so delicious and super quick to make as there is no sautéing of onions or tomatoes and is also easy.

Spinach dal with tomatoes made in the instant pot

Both the recipes can be made in a stovetop cooker or in the instant pot or sauce pot. I have included the instructions.

More Dal recipes
Moong dal recipe
Chana dal
Masoor dal
Dal makhani
Dal fry recipe
Khichdi

How To Make Dal Palak Without Tomatoes

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.

rinsing dal to make spinach dal recipe

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.

cooking dal until soft to make dal palak

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.

mash dal to soft or grainy to make dal palak

Tempering

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).

heating ghee to temper spices for dal palak

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.

frying chili garlic to make dal palak recipe

7. Add 2 cups chopped spinach/ palak. You can use more or less to suit your taste.

frying palak to make spinach dal

8. Saute for 3 to 4 mins on a medium heat. Spinach will wilt and begin to sweat.

sauteed palak to make dal palak

9. Add the cooked dal, 1/8 teaspoon turmeric and half teaspoon salt. Mix well.

adding cooked dal salt and turmeric

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.

pouring water to bring dal palak to consistency

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.

thick consistency dal, add lemon juice to dal palak

Serve dal palak with rice or roti or naan.

dal palak

For more palak recipes, do check
Palak paneer
Spinach curry
Easy palak paratha
Hara bhara kabab
Palak rice

Pro Tips

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 - spinach dal

Related Recipes

Recipe Card 1

Dal palak - Spinach dal

Dal Palak Recipe (Spinach Dal)

Dal palak recipe or spinach dal is a simple recipe of lentils cooked with Indian palak or spinach and then tempered with basic spices. This dal palak is quick to make and doesn't need a lot of ingredients. Serve it with rice or roti. Instructions for stovetop & instant pot included.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings3
AuthorSwasthi

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • ½ cup dal ( lentils) ( I use ¼ cup toor dal & ¼ cup moong dal)
  • cup water or as needed (1¾ cups for IP)

For tempering

  • 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)

Instructions

Preparation

  • 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.

Notes

This spinach dal tastes best with green chilies. However if you do not have them you may use red chilli powder.

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.

Video

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Dal Palak Recipe (Spinach Dal)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 184 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 12mg4%
Sodium 77mg3%
Potassium 579mg17%
Carbohydrates 24g8%
Fiber 11g46%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 2360IU47%
Vitamin C 36mg44%
Calcium 47mg5%
Iron 3.9mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes


Recipe 2

How To Make Spinach Dal with Tomatoes

I have made this in the instant pot but it can also be made in the traditional stovetop pressure cooker following the same recipe and method.

Pour 1 tablespoon oil or ghee to a pressure cooker (stovetop or instant pot). If using Instant pot, press the saute button and then pour oil. When the oil turns hot, add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 to 2 sliced garlic and 1 chopped green chili. (skip green chilli if you have kids at home).

temper spices in instant pot

Add ¾ cup chopped tomatoes, ½ cup chopped carrots or pumpkin (optional), ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ to 1/3 teaspoon red chilli powder, 1/8 teaspoon turmeric.

add tomatoes and carrot

Saute for 1 minute.

saute veggies

Add half cup rinsed dal. Here I used 1/4 cup toor dal and 1/4 cup masoor dal. You can use just toor dal too or just masoor dal or a combination of any.

add lentils

Pour 1 ½ cups water and give a good mix. Close the pressure cooker and cook on a medium heat for 3 whistles. If using Instant pot, Press cancel button, close the lid, position the steam release handle to sealing and press pressure cook button. Set the timer to 9 to 10 minutes. You can also cook your rice in the same IP by placing the rice bowl over a long legged trivet.

While the dal cooks, clean, rinse and chop the spinach. You will need about 1.5 cups chopped palak. When the pressure drops, open the pressure cooker lid and give a stir.

Add the chopped spinach and mix. Turn on the stove heat to medium and cook until the palak wilts. This just takes a few minutes. If using Instant pot, press the saute button and cook for 2 to 3 mins.

When you see the palak has wilted completely, add crushed kasuri methi and garam masala (optional). Taste test and add more salt if required.

Turn off and keep the cooker covered with the lid so the palak cooks completely with the residual heat. If you want you may pour 1 to 2 tsps of ghee over the hot dal or do a tadka following my moong dal recipe.

Squeeze some lemon juice over dal palak and serve with rice or roti.

Dal palak recipe

Recipe card 2

spinach dal

Spinach dal with tomatoes

Spinach dal made with tomatoes, spinach, lentils, spices and herbs. Make it in the stovetop cooker or in the instant pot. If you do not have both you can also make this in a pot.
Pin Recipe Print Recipe

For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Servings2
AuthorSwasthi
Diet : Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • ½ cup toor dal (or lentils of choice, refer notes)
  • ¾ cup tomatoes (2 small or 1 medium, deseeded)
  • ½ cup carrot (1 small, optional)
  • 1 ½ cup palak (chopped, 70 grams spinach)
  • 1 tablespoon oil or ghee
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves (sliced)
  • 1 green chilli (slit or chopped, optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • ¼ to ⅓ teaspoon red chilli powder
  • teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or ½ teaspoon amchur powder)

Instructions

  • If you want to make this recipe in the stovetop cooker, you can make it following the same method and pressure cook for 3 whistles. Press saute button and pour oil to the steel insert of the Instant pot.
  • Add cumin seeds, chopped chilli and garlic. Saute until the garlic turns aromatic for 30 to 50 seconds.
  • Add tomatoes, carrots, salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. Saute just for a minute and add dal.
  • Pour water and mix well. Secure the IP with the lid and position the steam release handle to sealing.
  • Press pressure cook button and set the timer for 9 to 10 mins.
  • When the pressure drops naturally, open the Instant pot lid and add the chopped spinach. Press the saute button and let cook until the spinach wilts for 1 to 2 mins.
  • If dal palak is too thick for your liking you may pour some hot boiling water (¼ cup).
  • Crush kasuri methi in your palms and add it to the simmering dal along with garam masala, if using.
  • Taste test and add more salt as needed. Press cancel and cover the IP with the lid so the spinach cooks completely. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons ghee over the hot dal. Optionally you can also make a tempering/tadka like I made in this moong dal recipe. Pour it over the dal.
  • Squeeze lemon juice to the spinach dal before serving. Serve it with rice, roti or paratha.

Notes

Here I have used 1/4 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas) and 1/4 cup red lentils (masoor dal). You may use any. But toor dal in combination with moong or masoor tastes best in this recipe.

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)

Nutrition Facts
Spinach dal with tomatoes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 294 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Sodium 735mg32%
Potassium 1012mg29%
Carbohydrates 42g14%
Fiber 18g75%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 15g30%
Vitamin A 14439IU289%
Vitamin C 32mg39%
Calcium 83mg8%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

This Dal palak recipe is from the Archives. First published in March 2017. Updated and republished in November 2021.

Dal Palak Recipe | Spinach Dal (Stovetop & Instant Pot)

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.

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5 stars
just made it for lunch with frozen/thawed spinach..came out excellent .thanks for the recipe

5 stars
Can we replace palak with methi and follow the same recipe?

5 stars
This was delicious. Made a butter tadka and was just awesome. Thank you

5 stars
Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe sis.. Palak sambhar was delicious😋😋 🥰🥰

Hello, I find all your recipes to be delicious. I am not a natural cook and have a lot to learn. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge. Please advise if I can use the green split moong dal in this dal palak recipe.
Thanks.
JP

Was looking for dal palak without addition of tomatoes. Tried this and it was fantastic. Thanks for sharing🙏🙏

5 stars
Made this tonight in the IP and it was amazing! My husband was pleased to learn it was another of your recipes ? Another great recipe thank you!

Hey!! I made your dal makhani recipe and it turned out soooo good! Thank you!

Do you think I could make this recipe with frozen spinach?

5 stars
Tried this recipe today. The whole family loved it! Definitely a recipe I would repeat many times. Thank you for thisngreat recipe, Swasthi.

Hi. Recipe looks great. If I am using only moong dal and spinach, how much dal should I use? I want more spinach than dal.

Tried the recipe and it turned out so good! Even my mother who is an expert at cooking praised a lot! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 🙂

5 stars
This was good! I made it without the green & red chilis so my 19 month old would eat it too. It’s mild yet flavorful and healthy. I loved it. Immediately copied down to recipe card without tweaks, which is kind of rare these days. Thank you for the great recipe!

5 stars
My first time making this dish and I enjoyed it very much. I used amchur but next time will try lemon juice since others have said so many good things about it. This is true comfort food, so easy to make, and is now one of my favorite dals. Thanks Swasthi!

5 stars
I made this today in my instant pot and it turned out delicious! The lemon adds a nice flavor I was not expecting! Super easy and tasty! Thank you!

5 stars
Very satisfying taste. 🙂

Authentic Taste.. Thank you..

5 stars
My grandson had seconds of dal palak at a restaurant, so we wanted to make it at home. Not sure he tasted it, but we enjoyed it very much. Next time I will double the recipe!
Thanks!

Hey the dal palak recipe is super duper thank you so much

My girls avoid palak but in this form was very tasty and most important quite simple to make. the lemon really added to the taste. Thanks!

5 stars
Its the best palak dal recipe I ever found. Makes a delicious meal for the whole family.

5 stars
Great recipe! Spinaches are rich in iron and magnesium while tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin K. This dish can substitute any snack without spiking insulin levels or increasing blood sugars.