Dal Palak – a simple one-pot curry made with spinach, red lentils and a few basic spices. Simple, vegan, healthy, protein and iron-rich spinach lentil curry made in Instant Pot make a quick and easy dish that gets ready in under 30 minutes and goes well with rice.
This Indian lentil curry is called by various names - palakura pappu, spinach pappu, spinach dhal or palak dal. This quick and easy spinach lentil dahl is a great way to incorporate greens into the diet. It makes a great dish for a weeknight dinner or a simple meal on lazy days. Spinach dal paired with rice, mango thokku and dal rasam makes a filling and hearty meal. Making a dish in Instant pot (IP) not only saves time but it is an effective way to cook multiple dishes in one go.
Dal palak recipe variations
Spinach: I’ve used fresh baby spinach, you may use frozen chopped spinach. Thaw it as per instructions on the packet and use it.
Ginger and Garlic: You can swap pre-made ginger garlic paste for freshly chopped ginger and garlic.
Lime: Lime juice can be substituted with tamarind pulp, fresh tamarind or lemon juice in this dal recipe.
Gluten-free: For gluten free version, you may have to omit asafoetida. Asafoetida is actually gluten-free but many brands use gluten flour. So I would suggest reading the label or leaving it out to be on the safe side.
Chillies: You could use red chillies or red chili powder for green chillies.
Advantages of Instant Pot over the traditional pressure cooker
Although the stovetop pressure cooker is in existence for decades, IP (Instant Pot) is the latest kitchen gadget gaining popularity over traditional cookers due to the multiple preset programs that makes cooking simple and stress-free.
The biggest advantage of the instant pot pressure cooker is that you don’t have to watch out as you would for a stovetop pressure cooker. You just need to select your cooking time or select preset programs based on what type of food you want to cook and the timer will let you know when it is done.
The possibility of human error is nearly zero. The easy-to-use preset programs allow you to have complete control of the outcome.
The added advantage of having IP is that the DELAY START option comes in handy, especially for working people. Before you go to work, just dump all the ingredients, select the program, set the timer and delay start option. By the time you come back home hot and freshly made food will be ready to devour!
Vegetables: Spinach, onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, green chilies, half a lime. I have used fresh vegetables but you can use pre-made ginger-garlic paste and/or frozen spinach. Follow the instructions on the packet to thaw the spinach.
Lentils: I have used red lentils ( masoor dal ). You can use toor dal ( split pigeon peas ) or moong dal as well but remember pressure cooking time is longer for toor dal. Soak toor dal in warm water for 20-25 minutes to cut down the cooking time.
Whole and Dry Spices: I have used basic spices that are essential to do tadka such as mustard, cumin and asafoetida, and turmeric powder an important spice for Indian curries.
Liquids: Oil to saute vegetables, spices and sufficient water to cook lentils.
Find the quantities and a short video in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
How to make palak dal in instant pot?
In a deep bowl, wash dal with water 3-4 times until the water runs clear. Drain the water and keep dal aside.
Turn SAUTE mode ON.
Start tempering mustard seeds, half teaspoon cumin seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida.
Saute and cook onions, ginger, garlic and green chillies.
Mix in turmeric powder, tomatoes and stir well and cook for a minute.
Press CANCEL button.
Mix in 3 cups chopped spinach, saute for a minute.
Add washed dal, 2 cups water and stir well.
Close the pot with lid, turn the PRESSURE VALVE (steam release valve) to the SEALING position (upwards).
Select the PRESSURE COOK/MANUAL option, set on HIGH for 5 minutes. Use + and - sign to change the timer as shown in the 2nd image below.
When the instant pot beeps let the pressure release naturally (NPR - Natural Pressure Release).
If the FLOAT VALVE is UP as in the left image, it indicates that the Instant Pot is pressurised and the lid cannot be opened. The valve in the DOWN position indicates the pressure is completely released and the lid can be opened.
After 10-15 minutes turn the pressure valve (steam release valve) to the VENTING position using a wooden spoon or rice paddle that comes with Instant Pot. Once the remaining pressure is released the float valve goes down then open the lid.
Mix in lime juice, salt. Stir until the dal is mashed well.
Enjoy delicious and healthy spinach dal with rice.
Check out south Indian special dal dosakaya pappu recipe here.
Chillies: Add more or fewer chillies to suit your preferred spice levels. I’ve used a medium-hot variety of green chillies so the curry is not really hot.
Ratio: There is no specific amount or ratio of lentils and spinach in this recipe. Add more or less spinach as per your liking.
Spinach: I’ve used baby spinach that doesn’t really need to be chopped. If you use regular spinach chop them roughly.
If you want your dal to be of smooth texture or if you don't like spinach to appear leafy then blend curry with a hand blender until it reaches your desired texture. However, the colour of the curry may change to light green.
Keep Warm: Once the timer goes off, Instant Pot is automatically set to KEEP WARM mode. As the name indicates it keeps the curry warm until you cancel the program or ready to serve.
Why dal palak cooked in instant pot is not flavourful?
Some people may feel dal palak made in IP is not as flavourful as the dal made with the traditional method. It is because not all the flavours and aroma are retained as they tend to escape with the release of pressure.
You may add extra tadka at the beginning to compensate. Alternatively, do tadka in a small pan at the end and add it to dal. To do tadka, heat oil in a small pan, once hot add mustard, cumin, curry leaves and asafoetida.
This is NOT a must but an optional step. My family just loves this curry as is and I don't do extra tadka at all.
Fridge: Black-eyed pea curry stays good for 2-3 days in the fridge if stored properly in a clean airtight container.
Reheat: Place the dal in a microwave-safe bowl and reheat it in a microwave until hot. Or heat it in an instant pot in saute mode stirring regularly.
Indian flatbreads such as chapati, naan and paratha go well with palak dal.
More Instant Pot Curry Recipes
Black Eyed Peas Curry: Nutritious, gluten-free and vegan black-eyed peas curry is a delicious dish that goes well with rice or any Indian flatbread.
Green Moong Dal Curry: A nutritious, protein-rich simple dish made with green mung beans and aromatic Indian spices.
Vegetable Sambar: Protein-rich South Indian dish made of lentils, vegetables, tamarind and spices.
Mango Pappu: tangy and spicy lentil curry made with raw unripe mango, toor dal and basic spices.
Turai Sabzi: Delicious curry made using ridge gourd and a blend of flavourful spices.
📖 Recipe Card
Dal Palak in Instant Pot
1 Cup = 250ml ; 1 Tablespoon = 15ml ; 1 Teaspoon = 5ml
- 1.5 Tablespoon Oil
- ½ Teaspoon Mustard seeds
- ½ Teaspoon Cumin seeds
- few Curry leaves
- ¼ Teaspoon Asafoetida
- 1 Teaspoon Ginger chopped
- 2 Teaspoon Garlic chopped
- 1 cup (113 gms) Onion 1 large, chopped
- 3-4 Green chillies chopped
- 1 cup (161 gms) Tomato 2 medium, chopped
- ½ Teaspoon Turmeric powder
- 3 cups (175 gms) Spinach
- ½ cup (112 gms) Red Lentils (masoor dal)
- 2 cups Water
- juice from half Lime adjust to taste
- Salt as required
- Switch on the Instant Pot and turn to sauté mode ON.
- Add oil, once hot add mustard, cumin. Stir and fry for few seconds and let the mustard splutter for few seconds.1.5 Tablespoon Oil, ½ Teaspoon Mustard seeds, ½ Teaspoon Cumin seeds
- Now add curry leaves, asafoetida and saute for few seconds.few Curry leaves, ¼ Teaspoon Asafoetida
- Add onion followed by ginger, garlic, green chillies and sauté for a couple of minutes or until the onion starts to soften.1 Teaspoon Ginger, 2 Teaspoon Garlic, 1 cup (113 gms) Onion, 3-4 Green chillies
- Stir in turmeric powder.½ Teaspoon Turmeric powder
- Add tomatoes, sauté and cook for 1-2 minutes or just until tomatoes start to soften.1 cup (161 gms) Tomato
- Now add spinach, sauté and cook for a minute.3 cups (175 gms) Spinach
- CANCEL the sauté mode.
- Add lentils, water and mix well.½ cup (112 gms) Red Lentils (masoor dal), 2 cups Water
- Close the pot with lid, ensure the pressure release valve is turned to the SEALING position.
- Select pressure cook mode, HIGH for 5 minutes. Once finished, let the pressure release naturally (NPR).
- Turn pressure valve to VENTING position and wait until the FLOAT VALVE goes down completely. Take the lid off the pan, add lemon juice, salt and mix until dal is well mashed.juice from half Lime, Salt
- Enjoy piping hot palak dal with steamed rice.
KEEP IN TOUCH
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Welcome to Flavours Treat. I share vegetarian recipes made with wholesome, mostly fresh ingredients. Every recipe has easy-to-follow instructions with process shots (detailed step-wise pictures), a short video and lots of tips to help your cooking journey. Read more