Dal palak or spinach dal is a popular Indian lentil dish. It is vegan, gluten-free, and kid-friendly. It is nutritious and very easy to make in the pressure cooker. This is an easy dal palak recipe for the Instant Pot.
It is served in Indian meals along with Indian bread, rice, and curries. Any leftovers can be refrigerated and lentils also freeze well if you are looking for meal-planning options.
This spinach dal recipe requires a few basic ingredients like lentils and spices which are cooked in tomato-onion gravy. Whole spices like cumin seeds, whole red chilies, and cloves are tempered in ghee or oil (to make it vegan).
Once the lentils are cooked, chopped spinach or baby spinach is added to make spinach dal. You can use fresh or frozen spinach or even substitute it with kale.
It is very easy to make spinach dal in the Instant Pot as there is no need to monitor it and you can walk away while it gets cooked and it will turn off once it is done cooking.
To make spinach dal in the Instant Pot, saute the whole spices in ghee or oil in the Instant Pot liner using the saute mode. Then add some chopped onions, and ginger garlic paste, and saute them until the onions are translucent.
Add the tomatoes, spices, salt, moong dal, and water and cook on high-pressure mode for 4 minutes followed by a natural pressure release.
I like to add some water while cooking and some after cooking. This helps Instant Pot to come under pressure in less time.
Once the pressure is released, open the lid, add the chopped spinach or baby spinach, and garam masala powder, and give it a good mix. Add some water to adjust to the desired consistency.
If you are short of some ingredients at hand, you can make some substitutions.
Dal - instead of yellow moong dal, you can use any other dal like toor dal, chana dal, mixed, dal, masoor dal (red lentils), or split green moong dal.
Spinach - Fresh or frozen spinach or baby spinach can be used. You can also use kale instead.
Oil - use oil instead of ghee to make it vegan.
Dal palak is vegan and gluten-free. You can easily adapt this recipe to make some variations.
Tadka - it is a personal preference if you want to do the tempering or tadka at first while sauteing or after the dal is cooked.
Onion, ginger, garlic - you can skip the onions, ginger, and garlic to make it suitable for the Jain diet.
Stuffed dal paratha - If you have leftover dahl, you can thicken it by heating it for some time and making dal paratha (stuffed flatbread).
Meal planning - you can skip adding the spinach while cooking and just freeze the cooked lentils. When you reheat the dal, you can add the chopped spinach at that time.
Spinach dal is a wholesome comfort dish and is usually served with Indian bread or rice dishes. It is best served hot with roti, naan, poori, pulao, or basmati rice. While serving add a few drops of lemon juice to enhance its flavor.
If you have leftover dahl, you can thicken it by heating it for sometime make dal paratha (stuffed flatbread). It goes well for kids lunch box.
I have made this dal palak in the 3 qt. Instant Pot. You can make a bigger batch in the 6 qt. Instant Pot. You can make it in any other electric pressure cooker.
Any leftover dal can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. When you are ready to serve it, you can simply reheat it in the microwave, cooktop, or in the Instant Pot on the saute mode.
Dal has a tendency to thicken after refrigerating, so you might have to add some water while reheating it to bring it to the desired consistency.
Moong dal can be frozen for up to a month in freezer-safe containers or freezer-safe bags. When you are ready to heat simply defrost the lentils in the microwave.
After defrosting the lentils, you can reheat them in the microwave or on the stove. The lentils may thicken after freezing so you can add some water while reheating to bring them to the desired consistency.
If you are meal planning and storing the moong dal for later use, you can skip adding the spinach while cooking and just freeze the cooked lentils. When you reheat the dal, you can add the chopped spinach at that time.
Which dal is used for dal palak?
Dal palak is a versatile dish and can be made with any dal like moong dal, chana dal, toor dal, red lentils, or even mixed lentils.
Do I have to soak moong dal?
Moong dal cooks very easily and ideally, there is no need to soak it. However, it is important to thoroughly rinse it with water to get rid of any chemicals and debris.
Sometimes there can be a bad batch of dal that does not cook easily, in that case soaking it for about 30 minutes before cooking is preferable.
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Dal Palak In Instant Pot (Spinach Dal)
- 1 cup Moong dal
- 3 cup Water (and more after cooking)
- 1 large Tomato (chopped)
- 1 cup Onion (chopped)
- ½ teaspoon Ginger paste
- ½ teaspoon Garlic paste
- 2 cup Spinach or baby spinach (packed)
Oil and spices
- 1 tablespoon Ghee (or oil for vegan)
- 3 count Cloves
- 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
- ⅛ teaspoon Asafoetida powder (hing, skip for gluten-free)
- 1 count Whole Red Chili
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon Red chili powder (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon Salt (to taste)
- ½ teaspoon Garam masala
- Lime juice (few drops)
- Rinse moong dal in water 2-3 times and discard the water.
- Turn the Instant Pot on saute mode with the normal setting.
- Once the Instant Pot is hot, add ghee (or oil for vegan).
- Once ghee is hot, add the cumin seeds and allow them to crackle.
- Add hing, whole red chili, and cloves.
- Add the onions, ginger and garlic paste. Saute until onions are translucent (this can take about a minute)
- Add the tomatoes and give it a good mix.
- Add moong dal, turmeric powder, red chili powder, salt, and 3 cups of water.
- Deglaze the pot with a spatula.
- Press cancel to come out of saute mode.
- Lock the lid with pressure knob in sealing position.
- Pressure cook on high pressure mode for 4 minutes followed by natural pressure release.
- Open the lid, add spinach, garam masala and give it a good mix.
- Optionally add more water if needed and saute for a minute.
- Add a few drops of lime juice while serving.
This look so simple and tasty recipe. Thank you so much for the recipe.
Alpa Jain says
Glad to know you liked the recipe 🙂