Easy Moong Dal with Spinach (pressure cooker & instant pot)

A creamy, flavorful palak moong dal made with simple everyday ingredients. The easiest moong dal recipe that saves you time and calories! Learn how to make this low-calorie dal palak recipe on stovetop/ instant pot/ pressure cooker.

Recipe overview

An easy recipe for moong dal with spinach that never fails to make an impact, whatever the time of the year and wherever you are. Like the popular chana masala, this dal can also be made in about 30 minutes (or less if you use pressure cooker or instant pot). Have this dal and rice for a delicious and quick weeknight dinner. Or use naan, chapati or paratha to scoop out this curry for a satisfying vegan Indian meal.

Moong dal is nothing but split and skinned green moong beans (and palak is spinach, if you didn’t know). Recipes with moong dal are popular because it cooks faster than most other dal varieties like chana dal and toor dal. It can be easily cooked in a pot on stove top even if you don’t have a pressure cooker or instant pot.

This dal palak recipe is mildly spiced so if you want to introduce Indian curries in your menu or to your kids, this recipe qualifies as the best candidate. One of the easiest and yummiest recipes with moong dal, it is also chockful of nutrients and uses just 2 teaspoons of oil. So HEALTHY!

Want to prepare a last-minute dinner? An inexpensive but nutritious meal? Comfort food that’s also healthy?

This spinach dal recipe will be the answer to all your woes. I promise.

Why you’ll love this easy spinach dal recipe

  • I would recommend this quick and easy lentil curry recipe for newbies entering the “world of curries”.
  • It doesn’t need curry powder or coconut milk.
  • It requires no roasting or grinding. Just tempering towards the end of cooking.
  • This dal palak recipe requires very few basic ingredients.
  • It takes less than 20 minutes to cook. Or even less if you have a pressure cooker or instant pot.
  • The protein-rich lentils combine with the nutrient-dense spinach to give you an entirely plant-based health boost.

(If you’re a beginner to curries and love chicken, try my 5-ingredient easy chicken curry!)

Ingredients

ingredients for lentil curry with spinach
  • Moong dal
  • Spinach
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Green chilli
  • Turmeric powder
  • Salt
  • For tempering
    • sesame oil or vegetable oil
    • mustard
    • white lentils/urad dal (split & peeled black lentils)
    • 1 dry red chili
    • a few curry leaves

How to make dal with spinach

(You can find the exact measurements and instructions in the recipe card at the end of this page.)

Instant pot or pressure cooker

Place lentils with all the vegetables and spices with water (2 cups for 1 cup of moong dal) in the pressure cooker or instant pot. Pressure cook for 4 whistles on medium flame in the pressure cooker. If using an instant pot, pressure cook on high for 8 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally. Roast the whole spices for tempering and add to dal palak. It’s as SIMPLE as that.

Stovetop method

This method takes a bit longer but is doable. Cook lentils with all the vegetables and spices, except spinach. Cook in a pot on medium flame with an additional cup of water. Do not close. When dal is cooked to a soft and creamy consistency, add spinach. Simmer for 5 minutes and turn off the flame. Add the tempering by roasting the whole spices and urad dal.

Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.

close up view of lentil curry with spinach

Recipe tips

If you have the time, rinse and soak the lentils for about 10 to 15 minutes before cooking. This will result in a more flavorful and creamy dal.

If you like your dal spicier, add 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder when you cook the lentils.

Add 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger for added flavor.

What do you pair dal palak with?

.

Health benefits of lentils

  • Lentils are an inexpensive way to get a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals.
  • They are great sources of health-promoting phytochemicals.
  • Lentils are rich in protein, which makes them an excellent alternative to meat.
  • The fiber-rich lentils improve your overall gut health.

Love lentils but not in a mood for curry? Go for the lentil soup with turmeric for that hot and spicy comfort. Or try the beetroot dal vada, a simple snack with chana dal. Summer lentil cilantro salad is another healthy lentil recipe you might just love!

More lentil and bean recipes

Health benefits of spinach

Given its health benefits such as 15 different vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and rated as one of the most protein-rich vegetables, spinach can help improve your overall health and fitness levels, including heart, bone, muscle, blood, hair, skin, eye and gut health. In short, it is a superfood loaded with goodness for every part of your body!

Did you know these fun facts about spinach?

  • March 26th is National Spinach Day.
  • The spinach growing town of Crystal City, Texas, erected a statue of Popeye in 1937.
  • In the 1930’s U.S. spinach growers credited Popeye with a 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption.
  • Medieval artists extracted green pigment from spinach to use as an ink or paint.
  • Cooking spinach increases its health benefits.
  • Spinach can reduce hunger and cravings.
  • Spinach is best eaten boiled since boiling gets rid of oxalic acid which is linked to kidney stones.
  • During World War I, spinach juice was added to wine and given to soldiers who had been injured, because spinach pumps up production of blood.

More curry recipes

dal with spinach and a bowl of rice and parathas.

Easy Moong Dal with Spinach (pressure cooker & instant pot)

A creamy, flavorful palak moong dal made with simple everyday ingredients. The easiest moong dal recipe that saves you time and calories! Learn how to make this low-calorie dal palak recipe on stovetop/ instant pot/ pressure cooker.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course dinner, LUNCH, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 112 kcal

Equipment

  • Pressure cooker or instant pot

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup moong dal (split and skinned moong beans)
  • 2 cups spinach roughly chopped
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 large green chili (or 2 small) finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing (asafoetida) see note 1
  • 2 cups water

Tempering

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons white lentils/urad dal (split & peeled black lentils)
  • 1 dry red chili
  • a few curry leaves

Instructions
 

How to cook spinach dal in pressure cooker

  • Rinse the lentils a couple of times. Place them in the pressure cooker and add the rest of the ingredients (except salt) with water. Do not mix. Close and cook for 4 whistles on medium flame.
  • Once the pressure is released, add salt and mash everything together. Transfer to a serving bowl.

How to cook spinach dal in instant pot

  • Rinse and place lentils with all other listed ingredients except salt in the instant pot with water. Close and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.
  • Allow the pressure to release naturally. Add salt and mash. Transfer to a serving bowl.

How to cook dal palak in a pot on stovetop

  • Place lentils with all the listed ingredients except spinach in a deep pot. Do not close. Add an additional cup of water (3 cups in total) and bring it to a boil.
    Simmer and cook until the lentils turn soft and the whole mixture turns creamy. Stir occasionally to prevent lentils from sticking to the bottom. If it becomes dry and sticky, add boiling water, 1/4 cup at a time. It would take about 20 to 25 minutes for the lentils to cook.
  • Add spinach and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Add salt and mash with a ladle for a creamy consistency.
    Transfer to a serving bowl.

Tempering

  • Heat oil in a small pan and add mustard. Once it starts spluttering, add urad dal. Once it roasts to a golden brown, add red chilli and curry leaves. Roast for 2 minutes. Drizzle on the curry and serve hot with rice or roti.

Notes

  1. Hing or asafoetida is an Indian spice that’s usually used with dal. It helps prevent gas and bloating. It is optional and is okay to leave it out (unless you have a sensitive stomach). You can also use 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger instead.
  2. If you have the time, soak lentils for 10 to 15 minutes. It will improve the flavor of lentils and make them creamier.
  3. The spice of the chili is absorbed by the lentils so you don’t have to worry about the heat.
  4. The original recipe uses 1 teaspoon of chili powder in addition to the green chili. You can do that if you’re used to spicy food. Just add along with the lentils while cooking.
Easy Moong Dal with Spinach (pressure cooker & instant pot)
Keyword dal palak instant pot, dal palak recipe, lentils with spinach, moong dal with spinach, palak moong dal, spinach dal recipe

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Thank you and happy cooking!

– Sheeba.

This post was last published in March 2018. It has been updated with new photos to give you an awesome experience.

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12 thoughts on “Easy Moong Dal with Spinach (pressure cooker & instant pot)”

      1. Preety Kaur Ahluwalia

        Are you suggesting raw spinach in wraps and sandwiches is not good as the body does not then absorb the nutientscand spinach should be cooked 4-5 minutes to gain all the nutrients

        1. Hi Preety,
          Thanks for taking the time to comment!
          The oxalic acid in raw spinach blocks the absorption of minerals like iron and calcium. When you cook spinach, the oxalic acid breaks down and hence the nutrients are absorbed better. Blanching also helps. (source)

  1. I make a similar curry with spinach. The only difference is that instead of lentils, I use gram flour as a thickening agent to my sabji. I love spinach! And, for the tempering, I use garlic and cumin seeds.
    Loved your recipe, too! 🙂

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