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Spinach Dal in a pottery serving dish with a half lemon on the side and a serving plate with dal and white rice in the background.

Dhal Palak | Spinach Dal | Palakura Pappu


  • Author: Yamini
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Dal Palak or Spinach Dal is a very simple, most common, and soul-satisfying dish from India. It is simply a lentil soup made with Spinach which makes it one of the most healthy dishes suitable for all ages. It is also vegan and gluten-free.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup split yellow moong dal
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 2 cups chopped spinach (also called palak or Palakura)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion 
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red chilli powder (I didn't use it, it is optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon Lemon juice

For tempering

  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil or ghee ( avoid ghee if making the vegan version)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds 
  • 1 teaspoon split urad dal (optional)
  • Pinch of fenugreek seeds (around 8 to 10)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of asafoetida ( also known as hing, skip it if you are on a gluten-free diet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon  ground turmeric 
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger 
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 red chilli broken
  • 1 green chilli slit ( I used serrano, use based on your spice level tolerance)
  • 1 sprig of Curry leaves 

Instructions

Preparation (Same for stovetop or Instant pot method)

  • Wash and peel the ginger with a spoon ( easy way to peel the ginger) and chop it finely. Peel and chop the garlic into small pieces.
  • Chop the onion and tomatoes into small pieces. Split the green chilli lengthwise. Break the red chilli into pieces.
  • Wash the Spinach thoroughly with water multiple times, chop it and set it aside.
  • Chop the cilantro and lemon for lemon juice to use at the end.

How to make Dhal Palak on the stovetop

  • Take the 1/2 cup of washed dal and 1.5 cups water into a vessel and cook it in the Instant pot using the pot in pot method for Manual 10 minutes on high pressure. Do a natural pressure release.
    • NOTE: If you are using a stovetop pressure cooker then cook it for 2 or 3 whistles on medium heat. Let the pressure release naturally. You can also cook the dal on stovetop pot adding enough water until it is cooked thoroughly.
  • Heat a pot on the stovetop with 1 tablespoon sesame oil or ghee preferably. 
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon of split urad dal, a pinch of fenugreek seeds( around 8 to 10 seeds), chopped ginger & garlic pieces, hing, ground turmeric, red chilli pieces, slit green chilli and curry leaves. Saute them for a few seconds until you get a nice aroma.
  • Now add 1/2 cup of chopped onion and a little salt with it to help onions cook faster. Saute the onions for 2 or 3 minutes until they turn translucent.
  • Then add chopped tomatoes and a little salt with them. Cook covered while stirring in between until the tomatoes are softened.
  • Now add chopped spinach and cook UNCOVERED for 2 or 3 minutes until it is cooked just enough.
  • Open the pressure cooker or Instant pot and take the Dal pot out and mash the dal using a whisk while it is still hot adding enough water to get the desired consistency.
  • Now add the mashed and thinned dal to the cooked spinach mixture on the stovetop and mix well. Add salt to taste and cook for a couple of minutes until everything comes together and switch off the stove.
  • Now add lemon juice to taste and garnish with cilantro to serve hot with rice or roti/chapati or as a soup. 

How to make Instant pot spinach dal recipe

  • Turn on the Instant pot saute mode and heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil or ghee preferably.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, a pinch of fenugreek seeds( around 8 to 10 seeds), chopped ginger & garlic pieces, hing, ground turmeric, red chilli pieces, slit green chilli and curry leaves. Saute them for a few seconds until you get a nice aroma.
  • Now add 1/2 cup of chopped onion and a little salt with it to help onions cook faster. Saute the onions for a couple of minutes until they turn translucent.
  • Then add chopped tomatoes and a little salt with them. Cook for a minute or two.
  • Next, add the washed dal and 1.5 cups of water with it and mix well to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. 
    • Note: If you want, you can use a trivet to place your rice bowl on top of the dal (pot in pot method). The cooking time given below will be good for both rice and dal.
  • Cancel saute mode, close the Instant pot lid with the vent in sealing position, turn on manual mode on high pressure for 10 minutes.
  • Once the Instant pot beeps and turns off, do a natural pressure release for 10 mins and then turn the knob to VENT position to release the rest of the pressure until the pin drops.
  • Open the lid and turn on saute mode. Use a whisk to mash the dal if you prefer. Add the chopped spinach and salt and give it a mix. Cook it for 2 or 3 minutes until the spinach is cooked and dal reaches desired consistency. Add more water if you prefer.
  • Now turn it off, add lemon juice after a couple of minutes and garnish with cilantro to serve hot with rice or roti or as a soup.

 

Notes

  • Usually, dals with greens taste best when made with minimal spices. That's why I didn't use any ground spices. If you prefer you can add a little cumin powder and red chili powder.
  • You can use any method given above based on your convenience and appliance availability. My personal favorite is the first method i.e cooking plain dal in an Instant pot or pressure cooker and making dhal palak on the stovetop.
  • You can use either moong dal or toor dal to make this recipe. I prefer moong dal as that gives the best taste to the palak dal recipe.
  • Use sesame oil instead of ghee for vegan variation. You can also use any preferred oil like coconut oil, canola oil, avocado oil, etc..
  • If planning to use the leftovers for another day, then it is very important to store the dal in the refrigerator in an air-tight container as soon as possible after preparing the dal and cooling it. This retains the fresh taste of the dal for the next time you eat it.
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Category: Main course
  • Method: Instant pot/pressure cooker, Stove top
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: Dhal Palak recipe, Palakura Pappu, Spinach dal recipe, Palak dal recipe, Instant pot Spinach