Dal palak, or Spinach dal, is a healthy Indian dish and a pantry meal that can be created with items you most likely already have on-hand. It is a simple Indian lentil dish with spinach. I love it as a midweek meal to assemble when I am too tired to cook something complicated and maybe my grocery supply has dwindled.
I make Dal palak with toor dal (split pigeon pea) and mung, but you can use whatever lentils you have on hand. Some lentils have different cook times, so check the lentils page for the cook time on the lentils you are using.
In order to stick with the “pantry-dish” concept, I didn’t use any fresh ingredients. The spinach is frozen and I used ginger powder instead of fresh ginger. It should be no issue to use fresh spinach in place of frozen. If you want to use fresh ginger, use 12 times as much ginger, so 1 1/2 tablespoons should do it.
This dish is easily made in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. If you have neither, you can make it on the stove. Tuvar dal should be boiled for a total of 35 minutes to get the right texture.
For a simple alternative flavor profile on this dish, you can use garlic instead of ginger. I would use about ½ to 1 full teaspoon of garlic powder in place of the ginger.
Dal palak goes well with a starch like steamed basmati rice, jeera rice or a flatbread like naan.
Dal Palak (Spinach Dal)
- 1 cup dal (Dried, split lentils. I use 1/2 tuvar and 1/2 moong, use what you have on hand)
- 3 ½ cups water
- 2 Tbsp ghee (or vegetable oil), separated
- 2 tsp cumin seeds (whole), separated
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 cup frozen spinach (Half of a 16oz bag)
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp chili powder
- salt (to taste)
- Melt the ghee in an instant pot or pressure cooker, add the cumin seeds, and cook until they sizzle.
- Add the Kashmiri chili powder. And immediately take out about half the mixture into a bowl and set it aside for the garnish.
- Add the dal, water, ginger, turmeric, and spinach to the pot
- Cook for 8 minutes in an instant pot, or 5 whistles in a pressure cooker. Let it natural pressure release for at least 15 minutes. When the dal is ready, mash with the back of a spoon about 5 to 8 times to break up some of the lentils and get a smoother texture.
- Garnish the dal with the ghee, cumin, and chili mixture that was set aside earlier.