Spinach Dal is a classic combination of pigeon pea lentils and spinach. We also call this Dal Palak or Palak Dal. There are so many variations to this wholesome and nourishing dish. For instance, we have the Palak Koora Pappu in South India and this is an Andhra special.
Do I need to say, spinach and split pigeon pea lentils are a match made in heaven? Or that it tastes heavenly with a dash of garlic? This is a vegan-friendly dal that can be made in a stovetop pressure cooker too.
In our house, Dal is something we enjoy regularly. My daughter loves all kinds of Dal and I rotate my lentils whenever I make some. Not all days have Toor dal. Whenever there is a heavy meal, I make Moong dal since it is light and easier to digest.
Why we love this Spinach Dal?
- Protein-rich and iron-rich dal that is just perfect when you crave for a comfort meal.
- Can be doubled in a pinch and easily serves a crowd.
- This spinach garlic dal is freezer-friendly and can be made vegan easily.
Spinach- This is our star ingredient. Palak and Toor dal complement each other so well. You can use baby spinach to make this dal too.
Toor Dal- In this recipe, we are going to cook Toor dal to a mushy consistency and combine it with other ingredients. In case you do not have this dal, you can use split yellow moong Dal to make this too.
Garlic- Like the title suggests, garlic is our dominant flavor in this recipe. Apart from flavoring, garlic also helps reduce gassiness and bloating that Dal normally gives.
Aromatics- Lastly, this recipe uses very minimal spices and ghee as aromatics. Apart from ghee, we will be using some regular red chili powder and turmeric. That is all. This is such a simple recipe.
This is just an overview of the ingredients used here. Check the recipe card for a precise ingredient measures and instructions.
Vegan Spinach Garlic Dal
As you can see, this creamy dal uses ghee. If you want to make this into a vegan Dal, then you can use any neutral-flavored vegetable oil or cold-pressed coconut oil. While Canola or rice bran oil will work well here, garlic fried in coconut oil has a unique taste and flavor. So my bet is on coconut oil.
Meal Planning and Prep Work
This dal freezes very well. After cooking the dal, allow it to cool down fully. When cool, transfer to clean freezer-safe boxes and freeze. To use frozen spinach dal, allow it to thaw in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours. When thawed, transfer to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat gently and serve hot.
You can also use the microwave to thaw your frozen dal. Make sure you use a microwave-safe glass bowl to do this.
If you are going to use Indian spinach, this Dal may take some time in terms of prep work. So I suggest that you begin with cleaning the Palak. Soak the Toor dal before beginning to clean the dal. This will minimize the cooking time for the Dal too.
While the dal is getting pressure-cooked, chop the onions, garlic, ginger and tomatoes.
You can also use your Instant Pot to cook your Toor dal.
Instant Pot Spinach Dal
Wash and soak the Toor dal in 2 c water for about 20 mins. This helps speed up the cooking process.
Insert the inner pot into the Instant pot. Turn on Saute Mode on Normal for 8 mins. Wait till the display reads HOT.
When the display reads HOT, add oil/ ghee. After 20 to 30 secs, add the cumin seeds, green chili and finely chopped garlic. Saute till garlic becomes a light brown.
Now, add the finely chopped onions and saute for 1 min till the onions become pink and soft. When onions are done, quickly tip in the ground spices and finely chopped tomatoes. Mix to combine.
Add salt and mix well.
Drain the soaked dal fully. Add this soaked Toor dal to the inner pot. Add water to this and mix well. Now add finely chopped spinach, stir to combine, and press Cancel.
Ensure that the sealing ring is fitted properly in the IP lid. Close the IP and turn the valve to SEALING. Turn on PRESSURE COOK MODE ON HIGH PRESSURE FOR 9 MINS.
Allow the cooking cycle to complete. Wait for the pressure to release naturally.
When the pressure has released, open the lid and gently mash the dal with a potato masher or a ladle. Add 1/2 c water if you find that the consistency is too thick.
Now, heat another small pan with ghee. Use cold-pressed coconut oil for a vegan version. Add finely chopped garlic and when the garlic begins to brown, add 1 tsp crushed Kasuri Methi. Immediately switch off the flame.
Transfer this fried garlic mixture to the Dal and stir to combine. Serve hot.
- You can add both ginger and garlic to this Dal Palak recipe. Or you can even add 1 tsp of ginger garlic paste after you add the cumin seeds.
- Adding 1/2 tsp garam masala lifts up the flavors in this easy Dal recipe.
- In this recipe, you can skip the red chilli powder completely and just make it with green chillies alone. Just remember to fish out the green chilies before serving.
- The time taken to cook the lentils may differ depending on the brand and its age. You can also make Dal Palak with red lentils or moong lentils.
You can make this a whole meal by cooking rice along with the Dal. To do this, we can use the pot in pot cooking method. Just before closing the lid of the IP, place a tall trivet in the inner pot. Wash 1 c rice in a colander. Add the washed rice to a stainless steel pot.
Add 2 cups of water to the rice along with 1/2 tsp oil. Place the rice pot on the tall trivet and cover it with a lid. Now proceed with pressure cooking the recipe as directed here.
Just remember to use a deep pot that is compatible with the Instant Pot while following the pot in pot cooking method.
You can check out a step by step tutorial for pot in pot cooking in our Instant Pot whole masoor dal post.
More Dal Recipes
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Spinach Garlic Dal
- Pressure cooker
- 1 tbsp Oil/ghee
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 small green chilis chopped roughly
- 3/4 c finely chopped Onion
- 3/4 tsp Red chili powder Red paprika
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
- 3/4 c finely chopped tomato
- 1.25 tsp Salt or to taste
- 1/2 c Toor dal split pigeon peas 1/3 c
- 2 c Water
- 2 c Tightly packed Finely chopped Spinach
For adjusting consistency
- 1/2 c Water if needed
- 1 tsp Oil
- 3 cloves finely chopped garlic
- 1 tsp Crushed Kasuri Methi
- Wash and soak the Toor dal in 2 c water for about 20 mins. This helps speed up the cooking process.
Instant Pot Method
- Insert the inner pot into the Instant pot.
- Turn on Saute Mode on Normal for 8 mins.
- Wait till the display reads HOT.
- When the display reads HOT, add oil or ghee.
- After 20 to 30 secs, add the cumin seeds, green chili and finely chopped garlic.
- Saute till garlic becomes a light brown.
- Now, add the finely chopped onions and saute for 1 min till onions become pink and soft.
- When onions are done, quickly tip in the ground spices and finely chopped tomatoes.
- Mix to combine.
- Add salt and mix well.
- Drain the soaked toor dal and add this to the inner pot.
- Add water to this and mix well. Now add finely chopped spinach, stir to combine and press Cancel.
Instant Pot Cooking Mode and Timing
- Ensure that the sealing ring is fitted properly in the IP lid.
- Close the IP and turn the valve to SEALING.
- Turn on PRESSURE COOK MODE ON HIGH PRESSURE FOR 9 MINS.
- Allow the cooking cycle to complete. Wait for the pressure to release naturally.
- When the pressure has released, open the lid and gently mash the dal with a potato masher or a ladle.
- Add 1/2 c water if you find that the consistency is too thick.
- Now, heat another small pan with ghee.
- Use cold-pressed coconut oil for a vegan version.
- Add finely chopped garlic and when the garlic begins to brown, add 1 tsp crushed Kasuri Methi.
- Immediately switch off the flame.
- Transfer this fried garlic mixture to the Dal and stir to combine. Serve hot.
Stovetop Pressure Cooker Method
- Wash and soak the Toor dal in 2 c water for about 20 mins. This helps speed up the cooking process.
- Heat a 3 litre deep pressure pan with oil or ghee.
- Add the cumin seeds and wait for it to crackle.
- Now add minced garlic and green chilis.
- Wait for the garlic to begin to brown.
- Next, add finely chopped onions and saute on medium flame for 1 to 2 mins.
- Saute the onions till they turn pink and soft.
- Next, add the spice powders,salt and tomatoes.
- Add 1/2 c water and stir to combine.
- Cook till tomatoes become mushy.
- Drain the soaked toor dal well and add it to the pressure cooker.
- Add water and spinach leaves. Mix.
- Close the pressure cooker with the lid and put the weight on.
- Cook this on medium flame for 5 whistles.
- Once done, allow pressure to release naturally.
- When done, open and mix well to combine.
- Heat a small pan with ghee/oil.
- Add the finely chopped garlic.
- Fry the garlic till it begins to brown.
- Add kasuri methi to this and immediately switch off the flame.
- Now, transfer the fried garlic mixture to the dal and stir well.
- Serve hot.
- You can also use split moong dal to make this recipe. For every 1/2 c of Moong dal, use 1.5 c water. Moong dal becomes thicker after cooking. So please add up to 3/4 c of water to adjust the consistency once the dal has cooked.
- I highly recommend soaking Toor dal. Please do not skip soaking especially if you are cooking rice along with the dal.
For Instant Pot & Air Fryer Recipes
Instant Pot timings may vary based on your geographic location. Air fryer settings and timings may vary based on the capacity and the model of the Air fryer.
Nutrition values are provided here as a courtesy and are only a rough guide. Please consult a health care provider if you have any concerns.
Sharmila Kingsly says
Quickly whipped spinach in IP. Wholesome and perfect for the busy mornings !!
Made this this evening. We loved it.
I don’t have a pressure cooker but would love to try this recipe. Could I just boil the peas in a regular pan? Thanks!
Of course you can but be sure to soak the peas for a while before you boil them in a pan
I use the red lentils for this dish. They take about 20 mins to cook and you don’t need a pressure cooker