Thursday, June 28, 2018

Spinach Dal in the Instant Pot or Not

palak dal at

Spinach Dal which is known in India as Palak Dal is a hearty soup made with channa dal or I use yellow split peas, tomatoes, spices, and spinach. Dal  (also spelled as daal or dahl)  is a Hindi word for dried split lentils, dried peas, or dried beans. Dal may refer to the actual legume or the finished recipe.

I sauté my vegetables in this recipe oil-free, but you can sauté in oil if you prefer.

toor dal

I made this vegan soup in a 6 qt. Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt ,  It cooked for 16 minutes, I let the pressure release naturally, and it was delicious. For a firmer dal to eat over rice, manually release steam carefully after 5 minutes.

I'm familiar with the word, Dal,  from frequenting Indian restaurants, but until now I had never actually tried to make a dal in my own kitchen!

Dal is thick and heavy and is traditionally eaten over Basmati rice, with a dosa, or an Indian bread. According to @AnupySingla, author of the blog #IndianasApplePie,  authentic dal recipes are never prepared using stock.  Anupy says, "We simply boil our lentils in water and then spice them"

yellow split pea soup

I added vegetable stock/broth to my recipe and ate it as a soup. One recipe makes a lot of dal so there is enough to eat it as soup for dinner and then eat it over rice for lunch the next day. Either way dal is delicious, satisfying, full of essential fiber and valuable nutrients.

Fast and Easy

I simply sauteed onions, tomatoes, garlic and spices for 5 minutes right in the IP ( Instant Pot)  and then added my yellow split peas. I switched to manual setting and set the cook setting for 15 minutes!
(which of course means it will take about 10 minutes to heat up first before it actually begins cooking)

Yellow split pea soup is high in protein
The cooked Dal Before adding the spinach -

You can do the same on the stove top- just add more liquid and allow to cook for about an hour (or more) until lentils are soft.

I add the freshly chopped spinach after the soup was cooked and watched the greens wilt right into the pot! So Good!

Split peas contribute protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals

Split peas offer significant protein - 16 grams per uncooked cup. 

In addition, yellow split peas are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.

The added spinach greens makes this plant based oil-free soup a powerhouse of good nutrition!

baby spinach

If you want to know more about Dal, here is a NY Times article 
The Why and How of Dal 

My Spinach Dal Recipe ( suited to my American taste) 


2 cups of diced onion 
1 cup of diced tomatoes ( I used cherry tomato)
1 cup of chunky salsa (mild, medium, or hot)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped ( I used frozen chopped garlic ) 
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of vegetable broth to sautee ( or if you use oil, olive oil spray) 
1/4 teaspoon or less of garam masala to taste ( buy in an Indian market or most supermarkets)
4 cups vegetable broth (I used 365 #WholeFoods Brand) 
4 cups water
1 16 ounce package of yellow split peas or Toor dal
4 cups chopped fresh spinach
Himalayan salt to taste
Optional: Add Chile powder if you like ( I don't)


1. Place 2 cups of diced onion, tomatoes, salsa, garlic, turmeric, cumin , black pepper, and garam masala in the Instant Pot. 
2. Turn on the sautee function and saute for 5 minutes in 1/2 cup of vegetable broth ( stir frequently)
3, Turn off the sautee function and turn on the manual function an add the split peas,4 cups of  broth and 4 cups of water . Cover, seal, and set to cook at high pressure for 16 minutes.
4. When soup is done, allow the steam to release naturally. ( It may take 20 minutes) or for a firmer split pea to eat over rice, release steam after 5 minutes.
5. When all steam is released according to the manufacturers instructions, remove lid and stir in the spinach, salt,  and garam masala to taste. Taste and add additional seasoning if necessary. 

My notes and advice

1. Get an Instant Pot !!!- If you don't want one- you can cook this on the stove top -However,  It will just take much longer to cook and probably be a little messier.

2. Split peas may foam and expand, so make sure your pot is large enough.

3I use the 6qt Instant Pot-Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, 

4. Split Pea soup tends to thicken as it sits especially by the next day- so if you find that it has become like a thick paste or even gel like, just add water or vegetable broth and mix well to desired consistency before reheating.

5. I enjoy trying spices from different cuisines- garam masala that is traditionally used in this recipe is a spice that is a mixture of spices lie coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg that have been roasted and ground together.

6. I am not an expert on Indian cooking. 

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Linking up with  Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series and Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday


  1. Thanks for sharing this recipe and interesting info about Dal and how to do it up. Wonderful ingredients. Healthy, economical, and flavorful!

    1. Hi Nancy,
      I think we both are on the same page about eating healthy! I appreciate you stopping by and leaving your comments

  2. It looks right up my alley! Delicious and healthy, Judee.

    1. Angie,
      I agree! a bowl provides protein, fiber, and nutrients making it a good choice for a delicious soup

  3. Your soup looks interesting, but its been over 90º here every day, and I don't belong to the school of thought that likes hot food in hot weather!
    best... mae at

    1. Mae,
      You know me- I like soup in the summer- but 90 might be too hot for me too.

  4. Mae,
    You are so right- I'm good with soup up to about 80 - today it's 95 NO SOUP for US today. I made this last week when it was 68-- the weather is surely vacillating!

  5. I love Indian food and I've been wanting to get an Instant Pot. This recipe sounds really good!

    1. Vicki,
      The best investment I ever made in an appliance is my instant pot!!

  6. I love spinach dal but have never tried it myself - This looks great -

    1. Thanks- as you read , it was my first attempt and it tasted awesome. However, I'm sure many people would like a more authentic version that includes hot chilis !

  7. Your dal does sound good, though I'd probably just put it in a regular pot and let it simmer for a bit. Lentils cook pretty fast. Don't you just love the amazing variety of spices in Indian food?

  8. You are right they do cook rather quickly, but there is so much less mess with the IP

  9. I love dal and this one looks really delicious. Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays this week! ;-)

    1. Thank you Deb for hosting each week! I enjoy all your wonderful soups and book reviews!

  10. I too love dal and I think the IP is perfect for dried legumes, peas, and beans.

    1. Beth,
      Now that I use the IP - It's my only way to cook- today I'm converting a ratatouille recipe to the IP

  11. This is a great recipe for the Instant Pot! Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with us at Full Plate Thursday!
    Miz Helen

  12. Visiting you again from another blog party. Your recipe it tops!


Your comments are appreciated. I love knowing who is stopping by to read my posts! Have a great day.