Daal with Spinach

Daal with Spinach, Daal Saag or Daal Palak – whatever you want to call it…now how do we get a healthier dish that this? Your Spinach (iron and fiber) and Daal (protein) all rolled into one! There are so many varieties of Daal and so many different ways to make them. Daal is a staple in most Indian households and pretty much had on a daily basis.  Try this recipe for “Daal with Spinach” with Chapatis, Parathas or Rice and you have a nutritionally complete meal. For a variation, switch the Toor Daal for Mung Daal or Channa Daal and you will be surprised how different and delicious they taste.


Toor Daal (Dried Split Pigeon Peas) – 1/2 cup
Spinach – 1/2 bunch, washed and chopped
Onion – 1/4 med, finely chopped
Tomato – 1/2 med, 1″ cubes
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
Water – 2 cups
Oil – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Curry Leaves – few leaves
Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp
Asofoetida – pinch
Dry Red Chili – 1, optional
Garlic – 2, crushed
Kasturi/Kasoori Methi – 1 tbsp, optional
Red Chili Powder – to taste
Tamarind Paste – 1/4 tsp


  1. Wash and soak the Toor Daal for half hour.
  2. Drain the water from the Toor Daal and pressure-cook it with 2 cups fresh Water, Turmeric Powder and Tomatoes.
  3. Give it 2 whistles and take it off the flame.
  4. In a separate pan, heat Oil.
  5. Once Oil is hot, add the Mustard Seeds and allow them to pop.
  6. Add Cumin Seeds and let them sizzle.
  7. Add the following in this order and keep mixing – Asofoetida, Dry Red Chili, Methi Leaves, Curry Leaves, Garlic and Onions.
  8. Mix well and cook till the Onions start to turn golden brown.
  9. Add in the Spinach and cook till it wilts.
  10. Add in the cooked Daal and mix well.
  11. Add Salt, Red Chili Powder and Tamarind Paste.
  12. Mix and allow it to boil for a few minutes.
  13. Serve hot.
  14. Serves 2
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0 thoughts on “Daal with Spinach

  1. This is my second time making Dal but the first time with this recipe. It is delicious! I have many Indian restaurants near me but I much prefer to know whats going in my food and use organic ingredients as well as save some money. Thank you making this possible. I’ll be coming back for more recipes soon!

  2. I Just want to thank both of you,I have become great fan of yours. As I am a new cook and this site helped me a lot to cook in right manner. Right now I am in Canada, I came here after marriage and after that I started cooking, previously I was thinking that it would me a very tough and tedious job but after reffering your website my life became easy 🙂 I have tried lots of recepies till now and many of them came out very well.Thanks a lot once again

  3. Hey Anuja and Hetal, I love your take on the simple Indian recipes. I tried Daal Palak, but it turned out a little bitter. Is that how it is supposed to taste?

    1. Hi Rasika,

      The daal should not be noticeably bitter. The recipe does have kasuri methi which in itself is bitter but in such small quantities, it should not make the entire dish bitter.

  4. Hi Hetal & Anuja,

    I wanted to know, how long will the spinach take to cook outside…I’m new to cooking and do not get an idea as to when things are cooked or overcooked. Also, if I add the spinach to the cooker and boil it does it affect the taste? Which one is better? Please advise.

    Thank you so much for the help.


    1. Hi Hema,
      Anytime you cook green leafy vegetables covered, the color of the vegetable will not be the bright green. Taste-wise there is little difference but if you are in a crunch for time, it is a great way to make the dal faster.

  5. hi ladies
    do confirm if i can use lemon instead of tamarind paste or tamarind paste is absolutely optional…


  6. Hi,

    I liked this recipe a lot as I love to make palak dishes & palak on its own is not very tasty.I just have a small suggestion.Instead of adding tamarind paste at the end,we can add some lemon juice.As the vitamin C in lemon helps easy absorption of protein in dal..In fact it is a good option to squeeze a bit of lime to all dal dishes..

  7. Dear Anuja & Hetal,

    Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful recipes…don’t know what we’ll do without them..I have a futura cooker and wanted to know how do you time on these cookers..is 1 whistle is equal to 5 mins? so when you say 2 whistles, does it mean 10mins?

    My 2nd question is if i want to use moong dal instead of toor dal, will i have to make other changes in the recipe as well?

    Thank you once again & stay blessed!

    1. Hi Pankudi,

      Unfortunately there is no exact time that equals one whistle. I have several pressure cookers that work differently. A safe bet would be approximately 1 minute per whistle. Try it out and you can note down your findings and make adjustments for future cooking. Mung daal requires a lot less cooking than toor daal. Usually one whistle is enough and you have to remove the pressure after approx 5 minutes by putting the pressure cooker until cold running water.

    2. Hi Pankudi,

      In my Hawkins Futura cooker, once I start hearing the hissing sound distinctly, I generally consider that as one whistle and immediately lower the gas; and keep it on low flame for the amount of time suggested… I have seen one more thing that water needed in futura cooker is generally lesser as compared to a normal pressure cooker… I hope it helps 🙂

  8. Hello Anuja and Hetal,

    I am a big fan of yours. I alway look at your receipe before cooking anytthig new. I am new to cooking so would like to ask you few basic questions. please reply me so that i will become better cook.

    1)Why should we use ‘Dry Red chilli’ instead of Green red chilli..i mean i jus want to know what difference does it make
    2)while cooking, should we put garlic first or chilli..
    3)Can we use Methi seeds instead of Methi leaves
    4)how long should we cook palak and i rally get confused while cooking sabji that it is cooked or not…Everytime i have to taste to check that it is cook properly so how do know by looking at sabji

    1. Hi there,
      Here are the answers to your questions:
      1. there is a distinct flavor difference between Green Chili and Dry Red Chili. The Dry Red Chili is put in the oil and spices up the oil which in turn spices the dish. The Green Chili is usually more localized and you will feel the spice and the heat more if you bite into it (unless it is ground/minced).
      2. Well, Garlic and the Green Chilli (minced/chopped or whole) can go in at the same time but if you are using Dry Red Chili, Dry Red Chili goes in the Oil first.
      3. Yes, most of the time you can unless you are making Aloo Methi or another dish that has Methi Leaves as the key ingredient. In this recipe, yes. The Methi Seeds tend to be more potent and stronger in flavor, a little takes you a long way.
      4. Spinach is a leafy vegetable that can be had raw and while cooking it needs very very little cooking time. So do your taste test (one of the perks of being the cook) and stop when you are comfortable.

      The one thing we will add is that cooking is personal, you have your unique style, so enjoy the experience 🙂
      All the best!

  9. Thanx for the recipes. Love the videos. You are both lovely. I’ve been making dahl forever and have at times literally lived off of it. But I like some of the spicing in this one, especially the tamarind. I’ll give this a try. I’m also a huge fan of the pressure cooker. They now make so called second generation cookers that are silent, without the jiggle top. They are much safer than the old style and are well worth the investment. I cook nearly everything in them. I got the idea from Lorna Sass’s Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure many years ago, which is the bible of pressure cooking. Apparently she got her ideas by, surprise surprise, traveling in India. Most cooks use them extensively there. Anyhow, keep up the great videos. They’re much appreciated.

  10. Hello 🙂

    I absolutely love your site and spend so much time watching all the videos these days 🙂 I’m getting married in January and want to learn as many new recipes as possible before that…:) Every weekend I’m trying something or the other from your awesome recipes!!!
    I noticed that u add methi leaves to quite a number of your curries, but I have never even heard my mom speak of these (I’m basically from Kerala)so I had a small question… What sort of a flavour do methi leaves add to the curry ? And how drastic is the change in taste if you have to omit them ? I live in Sweden, and have absolutely no hopes of finding methi leaves here !!! Another query… How do u decide whether your using the purple (red) onions or the green (white?) onions for a particular curry ? Does it make any difference at all ?

    Kudos to the both of you for this fantabulous site 🙂

    1. Hi Sajna,
      First of all, Congratulations and wish you a wonderful and a happy married life 🙂 Our best wishes always !
      Well, regarding Methi or Fenugreek Leaves (AKA Uluva ila in Malyalam) are bitter but a good bitter…does not sound good but they are yummy and very healthy. If you have an Indian Store in the area, you could substitute it for Methi Seeds or Kasturi Methi (Dried Methi Leaves) or els, leave it out 🙂
      Regarding Red Onions: Red Onions have a sharper taste as opposed to the yellow and white counter parts (which can at times have a little sweetness to it). But you can choose to use any other than Sweet Onions for Indian cooking. Green Onions aka Spring Onions are used in Oriental cooking: the white part is sometimes used in the cooking and the green part is used more as garnish.
      Hope that helps.

      1. Ha! So methi is fenugreek !!! I do have fenugreek seeds, so I suppose I can use those instead … Thanks a bunch for the prompt reply 🙂 We don’t have an Indian store in the neighbourhood .. just an Iranian one, which sells most things we need for our cooking. Maybe I could ask them if they could bring in methi leaves as well 🙂

        And I had no idea about all those different onions and their uses… My mom uses only the red ones 🙂 Thanks a lot once again …

        Sure am looking forward to a lot more recipes from the both of you 🙂 Keep ’em coming 😀

  11. Sorry for two posts in one day. but, how much frozen spinach would equal one half bunch of fresh? Thanks so much again!!!

    1. Hi Judy,

      hmmm….we’ve never bothered to figure that one out ourselves 🙂 Some people say a 10 oz box of frozen spinach is equivalent to 1 lb of fresh. Spinach (especially in this recipe) is very forgiving. If you add a little more or less, it will not affect the outcome of the final product.

  12. Hi Anuja and Hetal,
    Having never used a pressure cooker, it would be great to see a “tip tuesday” giving tips on how to use a pressure cooker as well as cooking times for the different daals. I want to buy a pressure cooker from your site, but don’t know which size to get or which type (stainless steel, non-stick,etc.)Perhaps you could give me some advice on the size, and type for most of the dishes you make. Thanks so much and keep up the incredible work!!!

    1. Hi Judy,

      We’ll put pressure cooker tips on our to-do list. We each have several pressure cookers in our homes but we use the stainless pressure pan (5L) the most. It is perfect for cooking for a family of 4-6. If your family is smaller, the 3L is great as well.

  13. Hi,
    I am alina from romania and married with indian and i want to say your website really help me to learn more of indian cooking.

    Thank you

  14. Hi Hetal & Anuja,

    Yesterday I cooked Toor Daal in my 5 Litre Hawkins Pressure Cooker for the ‘Lentils with Spinach’ recipe.
    The pressure cooker whistled normally for the first whistle, however shortly after when the second whistle ocurred a yellow spray of liquified lentils emerged from the whistle vent, spraying my kitchen stove and surrounding area. Is this normal or was I doing something wrong ? I did double your recipe, but that’s not alot of daal/water given I’m using a 5 litre pressure cooker. I have cooked channal daal, mung daal & kidney beans previously with no issue.
    Any help or comments would be appreciated !

    1. Hi Nathaniel,

      Pressure cookers are somewhat finicky at times. Coincidentally, I had the same thing happen with my Hawkins pressure cooker. I haven’t nailed down an exact reason, but sometimes, the small holes on the inside of the cooker lid may be blocked with food particles or mineral residue. You can clean them out with a pipe cleaner before using the cooker.

      1. Hi I have seen it happening to me too. I used to wonder if the amount of water in the pressure cooker is one of the reasons for the spray to occur.

        Would you mind compiling the soaking hours and whistle times for most variety of daal like moong,toor daal,massor,green moong,borwn lentil,kidney beans,chana daal..etc? I experiment every time and it turns out over cooked or less cooked mostly.Also how many whistles is needed for potatoes?

        I guess I am thinking so much of basic questions..Just trying to standardize my cooking..

        1. Thanks Hetal. Also please explain if vegetables should be kept in container before being cooked in pressure cooker. If they are placed directly in the cooker vessel, they become extremely soft. How many whistles do you leave for vegetables like carrot,beans etc if they are cooked using cooker?

          Looks like you ought to take a cooker and whistle session…:) Thanks for your effort.

  15. Hi Hetal & Anuja,

    I love all your recipes. They are so simple and easy to follow. I have tried most of them and they have turned out fabulous every single time. I have been cooking for 2 years now and thanks to your website, I enjoy it.

    You guys rock!

    – Meg

  16. Hi Hetal and Anuja,
    My mom never used pressure cookers as she was afraid of them, so I never learned to use one. I am clueless as how to cook with one.(don’t want it to blow up!) Do you think you could do a short video on the basics of pressure cookers for all of us newbies out there?

  17. Hi Helloall,

    There really is not any substitute for methi leaves. Methi seeds are quite a bit more bitter so they wouldn’t work. You could just leave it out.

      1. Hi Shanti,
        Most other greens will work, the flavor will be different but still taste good. You may also need to adjust the spices depending on what greens you use.
        Enjoy 🙂

  18. Hey guys,
    Awesome instructions. I have been making dhaal for a long time, but your tip of adding tomatoes with the daal in the pressure cooker is great! I will use it in other recipes too.
    Also, your text instructions are missing the Asofoetida part (but not your video).


  19. Hi Sneha,

    Most of the American store bought pressure cookers do not have the whistle system. You have to time it and cook accordingly…a little hard in the begining but then you get used to it (just get used to putting on the timer everytime you use it)

    The ones I have are ‘Tarmontina’ and ‘Fagor’ and they both work similarly and are very good.

    My suggestion would be that if you do have an option of getting them at the Indian store here or from India, that would be my first choice. Just make sure that the one that you buy is a stainless steel (better for health).

  20. was wondering what kind of american store bought pressure cooker you recommend? i have one from india but, am do for new and larger one. i like the ones with the old fashion whistle but, am open to your suggestion.

  21. Hi Amina,
    Welcome to ShowMeTheCurry.com!

    We do use the pressure cooker a lot as it cuts the cooking time and is also more energy efficient. You can cook these daals in a pot/pan as well, but it will take longer. We would reccomend investing in a cooker if you plan to make daals more often.

    Also, we have a couple of videos on ‘Stocking the Pantry’, do check them out when you get a chance:

  22. Hi there, I’m new to your site and I noticed that a lot of these recipes call for a pressure cooker. What if you don’t have one? Can you just cook the daal in a pot?

    Also, what would you recommend to have on hand – in a well stocked indian pantry so that you can make a lot of these recipes without having to go out to the grocery store and buy things every day?

  23. Hi Anuja (btw, nice name),

    Yes, you can use frozen spinach, just thaw it out and add it in at the same time. It tastes just as good.

  24. Oh, and I love spinach dal! I’ve never tried it with toor dal but usually make it with mung dal. Will try it soon.

    I haven’t tried putting curry leaves or kasuri methi either. thanks for the idea!

  25. Anuja, I have to agree with you about the gloves!! Can’t imagine wearing gloves for home cooking, even if I’m entertaining! I don’t see people on food network wearing gloves either.

    Oh, and I love spinach dal! I’ve never tried it with toor dal but usually make it with mung dal. Will try it soon.

  26. Anuja, I have to agree with you about the gloves!! Can’t imagine wearing gloves for home cooking, even if I’m entertaining! I don’t see people on food network wearing gloves either.

  27. Hi Sonia,
    We are cooking in our own kitchen and for ourselves so we don’t see the need to wear gloves. Our site is all about homestyle cooking and not many people wear gloves at home.

  28. Hey Guys,

    I boil the spinach with the daal and then do seasoning. It saves time and cooking resources. Also I think the nutrients are lost if spinach is cooked (just a wild guess).

    I will try your way too and see it tastes better.


  29. This site is really wonderful. I’ve been looking over Indian cook books at the local bookstores ever since the only Indian restaurant in our area closed down. Yet in all that time I never built up enough courage to buy a book and give cooking Indian a try because I was always nervous to try and simply follow a book’s instructions. But after watching this video clip I’m definitely going to go out and try cooking now! Thank you so much for putting this together.


  30. hello hetal n anuja ,i like ur recipes a lot,i think this spinach daal is really delicious after cooking so i will try this surely,reg bye tc

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