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Dal Palak - Spinach Dal

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Dal Palak or Spinach Dal (dahl) is a classic, satisfying, healthy, wholesome, and simple to make Indian lentil preparation that is very flavorful and delicious. 

This nourishing proteins and fiber-packed North Indian dish Dal Palak is prepared using lentils, spinach leaves, and basic onion tomato masala. Dal Palak can be served with plain steamed rice, jeera rice, roti, paratha, or any other flatbreads of your choice. 

a female holding dal palak topped with cilantro served in a terra cotta bowl

Dal Palak, or Palak Dal is one of the popular Indian lentil recipes made by combining the goodness of lentils and fresh spinach leaves — this easy-to-make proteins and fiber-rich dal palak is sure to satiate your tummy and nourish your soul. 

Dal Palak or Indian Lentil & Spinach Curry makes a quick and fuss-free weeknight meal when you don’t have much time to cook and you still want to eat something satisfying and delicious. The only time-taking thing here would be slicing spinach and chopping other veggies. 

To speed up the cooking process, chop the ingredients in advance and then this dal palak dish will be ready in no time. It is a staple in many Indian homes due to its health benefits and nutrients.

Plus, Dal Palak is one of such forms of Indian dals that is super healthy and tastes super delicious that even kids would love relishing it without turning their nose up and raising eyebrows. The second tempering of ghee, cumin seeds, onions, and garlic magnifies the aroma and flavor of this by taking it to the next level.

On this page, you will get a step-by-step picture recipe and a video tutorial on how to make Dal Palak (Spinach Dal).

dal palak served in a terra cotta bowl with sliced onions and green chili on the side

What is Dal Palak?

Dal Palak (Palak Dal) or Spinach Dal is a very nutritious, delicious, and comfy Indian lentils soup made with goodness of lentils, spinach leaves, and a spicy onion-tomato and ginger-garlic masala. 

In this Dal Palak recipe, Dal = Lentils & Palak = Spinach.

Lentils (Dals) are an essential part of Indian cuisine. They are not only used to make lentils stew or soups, but they are also widely used in popular desserts and snacks. Here are some lentils (dal) based desserts and snacks you may want to try: Moong Dal Halwa Recipe, Moong Dal Dhokla, Moong Dal Toast, Khasta Moong Dal Kachori, Chana Dal Namkeen, and  Moong Dal namkeen

overhead shot of dal palak served in a terra cotta bowl

Dal is such a versatile dish, and there are many ways you can make a simple dal.  You can make an everyday homestyle dal such as Rajasthani Panchmel Dal, Gujarati dal Dhokli, Restaurant Style dal Tadka Recipe, Toor Dal Tadka  or you can make rich and creamy exotic get-together or potluck worthy dals such as Dal Makhani.

When you talk about spinach, it is also widely used in many gratifying Indian recipes. There is a variety of Indian dishes made with palak that would make you love this leafy green vegetable a bit more. Some awesome palak recipes to try are Aloo palak, palak paneer, palak pakora, palak patta chaat, aloo palak paratha, spinach kofta curry, spinach kofta biryani, or palak puri.

Lentils (dal) and spinach (palak) go so well together. It is one of such recipes which is prepared at every Indian household with their own variations. Below are some variants of Dal Palak. 

  • Dal Palak Tadka:

Some people like to make tadka dal where boiled dal is cooked with onion tomato masala. Then this hot dal is tempered with freshly made onion garlic and chili tempering.

  • Mixed Dal Palak:

Here a mix of lentils is cooked with blanched spinach (palak), onion, tomato, and seasonings.

  • Moong Dal Palak:

In this recipe, yellow or green split moong dal is cooked spinach, and then it is mixed with onion tomato masala.

  • Hing Dal Palak:

Here you can choose any dal of your choice and cook it with spinach leaves, salt, turmeric powder, and garam masala powder. Then this cooked Dal is tempered either with cumin seeds asafoetida and red chili powder. Or, it is tempered with cumin seeds, green chili, and garlic tempering.

In this recipe, I am showing you how to make Dal Palak tadka with a lentils mix. It tastes exactly like the Dal Palak you get at the Indian restaurants.

What are the features of Dal Palak?

This Dal Palak/Spinach Dal …

✔ is loaded with spinach and lentils goodness

✔ is simple and easy to make 

✔ is a comforting, and hearty dish that tastes super delightful

✔ is vegetarian & gluten-free and can also be made vegan

✔ is also suitable for plant-based diets when made without ghee

✔ made with basic ingredients

✔ is so full of different textures and flavors

✔ is great for weeknight/weekend meals

✔ is creamy and rich

✔ can be paired with rice, flatbreads, or any other grains

✔ is ready in under 30 minutes

close up shot of dal palak topped with tempering and cilantro served in a terra cotta bowl

What Dal is used for making Dal Palak?

Dal Palak can be made either with one lentil or with a mix of lentils. I like to make mix dal palak because it is loaded with more nutrients and has a nice texture and taste. 

Below are Dal options to make Dal Palak.

Option 1: Dhuli Moong Dal (Split Green Gram), Or Moong Dal Chilka (Skinned Split Green Gram)

Option 2: Whole Moong

Option 3: Toor/tuvar Dal (Split Pigeon Peas) + Masoor Dal (Red Lentils)

Option 4: Toor/tuvar Dal (Split Pigeon Peas) + Masoor Dal (Red Lentils) + Chana Dal (Split Chickpeas)

Option 5: Dhuli Moong Dal (Split Green Gram) + Toor/Tuvar Dal (Split Pigeon Peas) + Masoor Dal (Red Lentils) + Chana Dal (Split Chickpeas)

At my home, I make the Dal Palak recipe with all the options given above and they all taste very exotic and flavorful. **I chose the Option 5 in this recipe post. **

What are the variations of This Dal Palak Recipe?

Spinach: 

Spinach (palak) can be replaced with other greens such as Swiss chard, fenugreek, kale, turnip greens, or collard greens.

Veggies: 

You can also add vegetables like butternut squash, cabbage, pumpkin, mushrooms, broccoli to this Dal Palak recipe.

a female holding a piece of flatbread over dal palak bowl

What are the ingredients used for making Dal Palak?

Dal Palak is made with some basic ingredients which can easily be found at any Asian grocery store. Below are the ingredients you will need to make this aromatic Indian Dal Palak:

  1. Lentils:

I have used a combination of toor dal, chana, masoor dal, and moong dal.

  1. Spinach (palak):

I’ve used freshly sliced and blanched spinach in this recipe. You can also use frozen spinach here. You can also swap regular spinach with baby spinach.

  1. Onion: 

I have used chopped yellow onions to the onion tomato masala, and sliced onions to the tempering recipe. Shallots can also be used here.

  1. Tomato: 

I have added freshly chopped tomatoes to this dal palak recipe.

  1. Ginger & Garlic:

I added chopped ginger and chopped garlic to the masala, and sliced garlic cloves to the second tempering.

  1. Whole Spices:

I have used cumin seeds and dried red chilies in this dal palak recipe.

  1. Powdered Spices:

Some basic spices like red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, gluten-free asafoetida, and salt are added.

  1. Oil & Ghee:

Oil is used for onion tomato masala, and ghee is used for the second tempering here. You can swap ghee with oil to make it vegan.

  1. Lemon juice, coriander leaves, and green chili.
a female holding a steel spoon over dal palak bowl

How to make Vegan Dal Palak?

This recipe is almost vegan because it uses ghee in second tempering (tadka). To make it entirely vegan, swap ghee with vegan butter or vegetable cooking oil.

How to make No Onion No Garlic Version of Dal Palak?

Dal Palak is an easy recipe that can be made with or without onion and garlic. It would come out super delicious no matter how you choose to make it. 

To make No Onion No Garlic Version of Dal Palak, remove onion and ginger from the ingredients list and follow the same recipe.

Can I freeze Dal Palak?

Yes, this Dal Palak (Spinach Dal) recipe is totally freezable. You can freeze the leftover dal in a freezer-safe 

container for up to 1 month. Just thaw frozen Dal at room temperature before serving and then heat it up. To spruce up the seasoning, add some garam masala and fresh coriander leaves to Dal Palak (Spinach Dal).

How to serve Dal Palak ?

Dal Palak or Spinach Dal goes well with rice, pulao, chapati, or paratha. This can be served with any type of flatbread. 

How to make Dal Palak?

This is an easy and simple lentils dish which can be made in 6 simple steps. Following are the 6 steps needed for cooking dal palak:

Step 1:

Slice and blanch spinach. Keep it aside.

Step 2:

Boil soaked lentils with salt and turmeric until soft and mushy. Add hot water to adjust the consistency.

Step 3:

Make onion tomato masala by sautéing onions, tomatoes, green chili, ginger, garlic, and powdered spices in hot oil. Add blanched spinach and cook.

Step 4:

Add cooked dal to onion tomato masala. Mix well. Add lemon juice and garam masala powder and mix again. Simmer for a couple of minutes. 

Step 5:

Make second tempering by sautéing onion, garlic, dried green chili, and red chili powder in hot oil. 

Step 6:

Pour hot tadka over hot dal palak. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve it as a stew or curry to relish with rice or flatbreads.

For a full list of Dal Palak Recipe ingredients and step-by-step photo and video instructions, please see the recipe box on this page.

How to make Dal Palak without a pressure cooker?

If you do not have a pressure cooker, then you can cook Dals in a stove-top pot like a thick-bottomed dutch oven. You might need to increase the water when cooking in a stove-top pot. The water you are adding should at least be 2 inches above the lentils.

To cook dal in a stove-top pot, bring the dals and water mix to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the dals are tender and mushy. Keep stirring occasionally to prevent Dals from sticking to the bottom. Then follow the same recipe.

overhead shot of female holding dal palak served in a terra cotta bowl

What are Pro tips and variations to make the best Dal Palak?

Tip 1. In this recipe, I used Serrano Chilies which are not hot. They enhance the flavor and taste of the dal without making it spicy or hot. If you want hot green chilies, then feel free to use any variety of green chili in this recipe. 

Tip 2. Adjust the spice levels by reducing or increasing the green chilies and red chili powder.

Tip 3. You can reduce or increase the amount of spinach in this recipe.

Tip 4. The ratio of dals (lentils) should be 1:1. 

Tip 5. You can add more or less spinach.

Tip 6. I added garlic and onions to the second tadka. But you can also use only garlic for a distinct garlic aroma. 

Tip 7. If you want to make a home-style dal, then you can skip the second tempering. This dal would still be creamy and taste delectable.

Tip 8. I added regular red chili powder to this recipe. You can also swap it with cayenne pepper. 

Tip 9. When blanching spinach, make sure to reserve the nutrient-rich water to cook dal.

Tip 10. To make this Dal Palak dish kid-friendly, remove the red chili powder from the recipe. 

Tip 11. I have added blanched spinach to the cooked dal because that way spinach retains its color and flavoring. If you don’t want to blanch the spinach, then you can either boil it with the Dals or add them raw to onion tomato masala along with spices. Then cook it until soft.


Dal Palak - Spinach Dal [Recipe]

Recipe Image
Dal Palak or Spinach Dal is a classic, satisfying, healthy, wholesome, and simple to make Indian lentil side dish that is very delicious.
★★★★✰
(Rating: 4.6 from 12 reviews)

Prep time 🕐 Cook time 🕐 Total time 🕐
30 mins
Category ☶ Cuisine ♨ Serves ☺
Side Dish Indian 6
Nutrition Info ⊛ Serving size ⊚
125 calories 1

INGREDIENTS

For Dal Palak:
  • Spinach (palak) 500 grams, rinsed and pat dried
  • 1/3 cup Toor dal (split pigeon peas), rinsed & soaked 30 minutes
  • 1/3 cup Chana dal (split chickpeas), rinsed & soaked 30 minutes
  • 1/3 cup Yellow moong dal (split yellow lentils), rinsed & soaked 30 minutes
  • 1/3 cup Masoor dal (red lentils), rinsed & soaked 30 minutes
  • Hot water (for blanching and cooking), I used 1 liter
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tablespoons garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger chopped
  • pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 1 large green chili, sliced
  • 1 large-sized tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves, chopped
For Second Tempering:
  • 3 tablespoons ghee/oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 cup onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 2 whole dried red chilies

INSTRUCTIONS:

Blanching spinach (palak):
  1. Stack all the spinach leaves, and slice them finely.
    Image of the cooking step-1-1 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  2. Add 750 ml of boiling hot water to a pot.
    Image of the cooking step-1-2 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  3. Now add all the sliced spinach leaves to the pot. Press the leaves with a spoon to immerse them in water.
    Image of the cooking step-1-3 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  4. Cover the pot with the lid and let them blanch for 2 minutes.
    Image of the cooking step-1-4 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  5. After 2 minutes, uncover the pan and drain softened spinach leaves with a slotted spoon. Keep the leaves aside and reserve the spinach water. We will use this water for boiling dals.
    Image of the cooking step-1-5 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
Making Dal Palak;
  1. In a pressure cooker add all the soaked lentils along with salt, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, and reserved spinach water. Stir it.
    Image of the cooking step-2-1 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  2. Cover the pressure cooker with the lid and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles over medium heat. Turn off the heat, and allow the pressure to depressurize naturally before opening the lid.
    Image of the cooking step-2-2 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  3. Open the lid, and add hot water to adjust the consistency. Mix well until combined. You can also use a wired whisk to mash the dals if they are not creamy.
    Image of the cooking step-2-3 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  4. Heat oil in a broad pan.
    Image of the cooking step-2-4 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  5. Once hot, add cumin seeds and let them splutter for a few seconds.
    Image of the cooking step-2-5 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  6. Now, add chopped ginger, chopped garlic, and mix well. Sauté 2 minutes. Add pinch of asafoetida and mix well.
    Image of the cooking step-2-6 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  7. After that, add the chopped onions and sauté for 2 minutes.
    Image of the cooking step-2-7 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  8. Add sliced green chilies and cook until onions turn translucent.
    Image of the cooking step-2-8 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  9. Now add chopped tomatoes and mix well.
    Image of the cooking step-2-9 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  10. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.
    Image of the cooking step-2-10 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  11. After 2 minutes add 1 teaspoon red chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, and 1 teaspoon coriander powder.
    Image of the cooking step-2-11 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  12. Mix everything well and cook until tomatoes are soft & mushy and the raw smell from spices is gone.
    Image of the cooking step-2-12 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  13. Now, add the blanched spinach to the onion-tomato mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes.
    Image of the cooking step-2-13 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  14. Add the cooked dal to the onion tomato mixture and stir well until combined.
    Image of the cooking step-2-14 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  15. Add garam masala powder and mix well. Let it come to a boil.
    Image of the cooking step-2-15 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  16. Once boiling, turn off the heat and drizzle with a splash of lemon juice. Mix well.
    Image of the cooking step-2-16 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
How to make Instant Pot Dal Palak
  1. Start the instant pot in sauté mode and heat ghee in it.
    Image of the cooking step-3-1 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  2. Once the ghee is hot, add cumin seeds, chopped ginger, chopped garlic, and asafoetida to it. Stir well and sauté 2 minutes.
    Image of the cooking step-3-2 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  3. After that, add the chopped onions and green chilies and sauté for 3 minutes.
    Image of the cooking step-3-3 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes.
    Image of the cooking step-3-4 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  5. Add 1 teaspoon red chili powder, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, 3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, and salt to taste. Mix everything well and cook for 3-4 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and mushy.
    Image of the cooking step-3-5 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  6. chopped ginger, and chopped garlic to it.
    Image of the cooking step-3-6 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  7. Now add rinsed and soaked dals to the pot. Mix well.
    Image of the cooking step-3-7 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  8. Add 3 cups water and mix again.
    Image of the cooking step-3-8 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  9. Cancel the SAUTE mode. Close the lid, and set the valve to sealing.
    Image of the cooking step-3-9 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  10. Change the instant pot setting to manual or pressure cook mode at high pressure for 11 minutes.
    Image of the cooking step-3-10 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  11. NPR (Natural pressure release). Once the pin drops, open the lid.
    Image of the cooking step-3-11 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  12. Press the cancel button and then press the saute button. Mix well and mash dal lightly using the back of a spoon. At this point, you can add hot water to adjust the consistency.
    Image of the cooking step-3-12 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  13. Add blanched spinach, 1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder, and mix well.
    Image of the cooking step-3-13 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  14. Cover the Instant Pot with a lid and let the dals cook for 3-4 minutes.
    Image of the cooking step-3-14 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  15. Drizzle with lemon juice. Mix well, and cover the Instant Pot until you are ready to serve Dal.
    Image of the cooking step-3-15 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
Making second tempering (tadka):
  1. Heat ghee/oil in a frying pan.
    Image of the cooking step-4-1 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  2. Once hot, add cumin seeds, sliced garlic, sliced onions, and dried red chilies.
    Image of the cooking step-4-2 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  3. Sauté until they are golden.
    Image of the cooking step-4-3 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  4. Now turn off the heat and add red chili powder. Mix well and sauté for a few seconds or until the raw smell from chili powder is gone completely.
    Image of the cooking step-4-4 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
Serving:
  1. Transfer hot dal palak to a serving dish.
    Image of the cooking step-5-1 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  2. Pour hot tadka over dal.
    Image of the cooking step-5-2 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal
  3. Garnish with fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves and serve hot with rice, roti, or paratha.
    Image of the cooking step-5-3 for Dal Palak - Spinach Dal

WATCH VIDEO:


NOTES:

  1. In this recipe, I used Serrano Chilies which are not hot. They enhance the flavor and taste of the dal without making it spicy or hot. If you want hot green chilies, then feel free to use any variety of green chili in this recipe.
  2. Adjust the spice levels by reducing or increasing the green chilies and red chili powder.
  3. You can reduce or increase the amount of spinach in this recipe.
  4. The ratio of dals (lentils) should be 1:1.
  5. You can add more or less spinach.
  6. I added garlic and onions to the second tadka. But you can also use only garlic for a distinct garlic aroma.
  7. If you want to make a home-style dal, then you can skip the second tempering. This dal would still be creamy and taste delectable.
  8. I added regular red chili powder to this recipe. You can also swap it with cayenne pepper.
  9. When blanching spinach, make sure to reserve the nutrient-rich water to cook dal.

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