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Dal Palak is a delicious spinach and lentils dal, prepared in many parts of India. It's a fragrant soup enhanced by the addition of spices such as cumin seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric and ginger. It's a healthy, nutritious, vegan main course.
This spinach dal is one of the most delicious Indian dal recipes. It's also a great meal for people who are gluten intolerant or who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. It's also a dish rich in fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates and vitamin C and A, but at the same time low in calories.
It's also easy to make and ready to be served within 30 minutes.
If like me, you are a lover of Indian cuisine, I recommend you also try this vegan butter chicken. It's absolutely delicious.
To make this recipe you will need the following ingredients:
- mung dal
- fresh spinach
- cumin seeds (cumin powder is fine too)
- black mustard seeds
- turmeric powder
- ginger-garlic paste
- green chilli (red chilli is fine too)
- lemon juice (lime juice works fine too)
- vegetable oil or vegan ghee
See the recipe card at the bottom of this blog-post for the quantities.
This is a step by step guide on how to make Palak Dal.
Begin by rinsing and draining the lentils and then placing them in a large pot. Cover the lentils with water and bring to a boil. Let the lentils cook over medium-low heat, with the lid half on until they're are well cooked.
Then add the spinach and cook it for another 3-4 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Season with salt and set the pot aside.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat the vegetable oil. When it's hot, add the mustard seeds and fry them for a few seconds. Then add the garlic-ginger paste, chilli and cumin seeds and cook them for a handful of seconds. Finally add the kurkuma.
Add the spiced oil to the lentils and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and serve the lentils with spinach with basmati rice, roti or naan.
If you need to substitute ingredients, below I explain how to do so and which ingredients can be substituted without radically changing the taste of the recipe:
- Mung dal (or moong dal) - can be replaced with toor dal/arhar dal (pigeon peas), masoor dal (red lentils), chana dal (split chickpeas) or green/brown lentils.
- Vegetable oil - can be replaced by vegan ghee.
- Spinach - the spinach leaves can be replaced with fresh chard or kale. You can also use frozen spinach.
- Green chillies - can be replaced by red chilies.
The biggest variation comes from the type of lentils that are used. Lentils such as mung dal, toor dal, masoor dal or chana dal tend to become a puree, while using green or brown lentils will make the texture of the dish more interesting.
- Spicy - add chili flakes alongs with the rest of the spices when you make the spiced oil.
- Kid friendly - leave out the chillis.
- Light - add more spinach to have a lighter yet delicious meal.
- Tomatoes - A variation of this recipe involves the addition of tomatoes. To make it, add 100 g of diced tomatoes to the spiced oil after frying the mustard seeds.
- Pressure cooker / instant pot - Place the lentils in a 2 litre stovetop pressure cooker. Add 400 ml of water and pressure cook on medium-high heat until it whistles for 2 times, then lower the heat and allow to cook for 10 minutes or until the lentils become soft and mushy. Wait few minutes letting the pressure release happen naturally. Add then the spiced oil as described in the recipe card at the bottom of this blog-post. Be aware that every pressure cooker works slightly difference so adjust the recipe to your pressure cooker / instant pot.
To make this recipe all you need is a pot in which to cook the lentil and spinach curry and a small pot in which to make the spiced oil. In case you want to cook the lentils more quickly, you can use a pressure cooker (as described above).
Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
Alternatively, you can also set the dal in an airtight container and store it in the freezer for 2-3 months. When you want to make it, let it thaw for 24 hours in the refrigerator before reheating it in a pan.
This dish is traditionally served with rotis or rice. Of course, if you prefer you can also serve it with naan.
Make ahead option
This lentil soup can be made ahead of time. Just make it as described in the recipe card below, then allow it to cool completely. Once cold, place it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
By resting in the refrigerator, the spice aromas will have time to penetrate into the lentils, making the flavor of this dal even tastier.
To reheat, place the dal into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until warm.
Dal palak is a curry made from lentils cooked with spinach to which a spiced oil is added, making this dal fragrant and delicious.
Dal palak is a dish rich in fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates but at the same time low in calories. This makes it a healthy and satiating meal perfect for everyone.
One serving of Palak dal has 241 kcal.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Spinach with Lentils (Dal Palak Recipe)
- 1 Pot
- 1 Saucepan
- 200 g mung dal washed and drained
- 100 g fresh spinach washed, drained and chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 2-3 fresh green chilies chopped
- 2 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
- 1½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- salt & pepper to taste
- ½ lemon juiced
- Place the lentils into a large pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the lentils slowly for about 25 minutes until they are soft. Add a splash of water from time to time if necessary.
- Just before the lentils are cooked, add the chopped spinach, adjust the salt and continue cooking for a few minutes. Then turn off the heat and set the cooked dal aside.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan, then add the mustard seeds and saute for a few seconds. Then add the chillies, ginger-garlic paste, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, stir and cook for 30 seconds. Pour the oil over the lentils and mix well. Adjust salt and pepper again if necessary, and before serving top the lentils with lemon juice. Serve with basmati rice, jeera rice, papad or rotis.
Here you have some health and safety tips you should be following during cooking.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove