Dal saag is a delicious, silky, full-bodied dal with just the right amount of spice. This dish is easy to put together from items you probably already have in your kitchen. It makes for a nutritious weeknight meal that your family will enjoy.
Dal saag, 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’s a recipe I leaned on often in the early days of covid lockdowns when it was difficult to keep the kitchen stocked with fresh produce. I love it as a midweek meal to assemble when I am too tired to cook something complicated or when my grocery supply has dwindled.
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. You can use an equal amount of fresh spinach in place of frozen. And if you want to use fresh ginger, use 12 times as much ginger, 1 1/2 tablespoons will do it.
Tuvar Dal – Tuvar, toor, or pigeon pea dal is the most popular dal of Gujarat. It is a yellow dal and is the perfect complement to spinach.
Moong Dal – Moong (mung or mug) is another very popular dal. It gives this dish a silky texture, almost a creaminess, despite there being no cream.
If you don’t have tuvar, or you don’t have moong, that is okay. Any dal or combination of dal will work. Just make sure it adds up to 1 cup. Also, you may have to adjust your cook time, especially if you use chana dal.
Spinach – since this is a “pantry meal” it uses frozen spinach. You can also use fresh spinach if you have it, or use another green such as swiss chard or kale.
- If your lentils are really old, you may need to cook a minute or two in the Instant Pot. When you are done cooking, check to make sure everything is as soft and well cooked as you like.
- This recipe can just as easily be made on the stovetop. However, if you are cooking on the stovetop, you may need to add more water and keep an eye on the level of water as it cooks. It does evaporate.
This is a very flexible dish. Have fun with it:
- Use fresh garlic, fresh spinach, fresh ginger
- Add garlic (granulated or fresh)
- Add onions, saute those in to soften, add before spinach.
- Use other greens in place of spinach, like swiss chard or kale
Serving Spinach Dal
Dal palak goes well with starch, like steamed basmati rice and a dollop of ghee. For a really healthy meal, serve it with brown basmati rice. You can also serve it with a homemade flatbread like laccha paratha.
Dal Palak (Spinach Dal)
- ½ cup tuvar dal (toor dal, split pigeon peas)
- ½ cup moong dal (mung dal, mug dal)
- 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.