Dal Palak – a simple one-pot curry made with spinach, red lentils and basic spices. The simple, vegan, healthy, protein and iron-rich spinach lentil curry made in Instant Pot makes a quick and easy dish that gets ready in 20 minutes and goes well with rice.
As always, you will find the full ingredients list with measurements and detailed recipe instructions in a separate recipe box underneath the text section. To bypass the text section choose “SCROLL TO RECIPE” or “PRINT RECIPE” or click the “SCROLL TO VIDEO” option to watch the full video of this recipe. All options are located at the beginning of the post.
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 comfort 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
I’ve used fresh baby spinach, you may use frozen chopped spinach. Thaw it as per instructions on the packet and use it.
You can swap pre-made ginger garlic paste for freshly chopped ginger and garlic.
Lime juice can be substituted with tamarind pulp or fresh tamarind.
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 IP is that you don’t have to watch out as you would do 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 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!
Watch how to make dal palak
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Vegetables: Spinach, onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, green chillies, 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 spinach.
Lentils: I have used red lentils (masoor dal). You can use toor dal or moong dal as well but remember toor dal may require more time to cook. Soak toor dal in warm water for 20-25 minutes to cut down the cook time.
Whole and Dry Spices: I have used basic spices that are essential to do tadka such as mustard, cumin, asafoetida. I’ve used turmeric an important spice for Indian curries.
Liquids: Oil to saute vegetables, spices and sufficient water to cook lentils.
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, cumin, curry leaves, asafoetida.
Saute and cook onions, ginger, garlic, green chillies.
Mix in turmeric, tomatoes and stir well and cook for a minute.
CANCEL the SAUTE mode.
Mix in spinach, saute for a minute.
Add washed dal, water and stir well.
Close the pot with lid, turn the PRESSURE VALVE to the SEALING position (upwards).
Select the PRESSURE COOK 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 allow some time for the pressure to 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 as shown in the right image.
After 10-15 minutes turn the pressure valve to 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 dal is mashed well.
Enjoy delicious and healthy spinach dal with rice.
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.
You may swap red chillies or red chilli powder for green chillies.
There is no specific amount or ratio of lentils and spinach in this recipe. Add more or less spinach as per your likings.
I’ve used baby spinach that doesn’t really need to be chopped. If you use regular spinach chop them roughly.
Use a wooden spoon to turn the pressure valve to a venting position to prevent hurting your fingers from the steam.
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.
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.
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 love this curry as is and I don’t do extra tadka at all.
MORE CURRY RECIPES
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Dal Palak in Instant Pot
1 cup = 250ml ; 1 tbsp = 15ml
- 1.5 tbsp Oil
- 1/2 tsp Mustard
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- few Curry leaves
- 1/4 tsp Asafoetida
- 1 tsp Ginger chopped
- 2 tsp Garlic chopped
- 1 cup (113 gms) Onion 1 large, chopped
- 3-4 Green chillies chopped
- 1 cup (161 gms) Tomato 2 medium, chopped
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric
- 3 cups (175 gms) Spinach
- 1/2 cup (112 gms) Red Lentils (masoor dal)
- 2 cups Water
- juice from 1/2 Lime
- as required Salt
- 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.
- Now add curry leaves, asafoetida and saute for few seconds.
- Add onion followed by ginger, garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes or until the onion starts to soften.
- Stir in turmeric.
- Add tomatoes, sauté and cook for 1-2 minutes or just until tomatoes start to soften.
- Now add spinach, sauté and cook for a minute.
- CANCEL the sauté mode.
- Add lentils, water and mix well.
- 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.
- Enjoy piping hot palak dal with steamed rice.
MORE ONE-POT DISH RECIPES:
KEEP IN TOUCH
Do let me know if you make this spinach lentil curry. I love to get feedback from readers.