Masoor Palak Dal (Red Lentil Spinach Stew) is a hearty, nutritional lentil stew. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on the top, pair it with cooked rice, thinly slice a cucumber on the side for the extra crunch, and you will have a very satisfactory meal.
What is Masoor Palak Dal?
Masoor is Red lentil and Palak is spinach, which makes this dal/lentil stew high in protein and a great healthy meal for any day!
Red lentil barely takes any time to cook, and that makes it my preferred choice for weeknight dal. You can either boil it in a pressure cooker or in a pot. It barely takes 20 minutes and doesn't even need prior soaking.
Dal is an essential part of the Indian meal. It helps you balance your diet along with rice as well as sabzi (vegetable stir fry) or curry. The lentil can be cooked with different vegetables, spices or herbs to form either a thick stew or a thin soup-like consistency.
It’s our comfort food, and there are probably a thousand different ways in which you can make a delicious bowl of daal.
Prepare in a Pot or Pressure Cooker
Red Lentils cooks very fast, which makes it great to cook either in a pot or pressure cooker. I have shared in the recipe card below both the method. And below you can find two recipe videos of the methods as well!
VIDEO OF THE DAL WITHOUT PRESSURE COOKER
VIDEO OF THE DAL USING A PRESSURE COOKER
Ingredients for Masoor Palak Dal
Spinach - I prefer using baby spinach for this dish as it cooks faster along with the lentils.
Garlic - I love to add lots of garlic in this Masoor Palak Dal. Garlic with spinach is such a great combo, and it enhances the flavor of this dal with the extra tadka on top.
Cumin Seeds and Cumin Power
Tomatoes - You can use chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes.
Salt and turmeric
Don't miss the Ghee Tadka
The tadka on top with ghee and more garlic, cumin seeds and dry red chili totally elevates the taste of the dal.
Tadka - Tadka is a cooking technique used very commonly in Indian cooking where few whole spices and herbs are tempered in hot oil or ghee. It is then topped on the dish just before serving. This elevates the flavor of the dish to a whole new level.
Fat-free, high in protein, source of iron and fiber, red lentils are a good choice to make your daily meal a balanced meal. When I have spinach at home, I always like to add that to make the daal more filling. Of course, you could always add any other kinds of greens, like chard or kale.
Irrespective of what greens you use, just remember to flavor it up at the end.
A good tadka (tempering) with ghee, some fresh garlic, little whole spices like cumin and a pinch of chili powder for the pop of color makes all the difference.
Masoor Palak Dal (Red Lentil Spinach Stew)
- 1 cup split red lentils
- 1 small red onion (5 oz finely chopped (optional))
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 and ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tomato or few cherry tomatoes (optional)
- 4 cups tightly packed baby spinach or chopped large spinach
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 green chili (optional)
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 3 garlic cloves (very thinly sliced)
- ½ teaspoon dry red chili or chili powder/paprika
NOT USING A PRESSURE COOKER:
- Wash the red lentils in several changes of water and then, soak it in enough water for about 15 minutes. This step is optional, but it will help the lentil to boil faster.
- After 15 minutes, drain the lentils and drop it in a heavy bottom saucepan with the water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring the water to a boil and then, bring the heat down to medium low and let the lentil simmer for about 20 minutes until the lentils are cooked through. You can also pressure cook the lentils.
- While the lentils boil, you can prepare the spinach on the side. Place a skillet on medium heat and pour the oil. Once the oil heats up, drop the spinach (onion if using) along with the rest of the salt and turmeric powder. Give it a stir and cook for 5 minutes. if you are suing the tomato, add that too and let it cook for 2 minutes. Once done, switch off the heat and leave the cooked spinach on the pan.
- Once the lentils are cooked through, place the skillet with the cooked spinach back on medium heat. Once the pan heats up, pour the boiled lentils and mix everything together. At this point, check for the consistency of the stew. Add the rest of the turmeric and green chili. If you prefer it soupier, add water and cook for some more time. Also, check for salt and add any, if required. Pour the masoor palak dal in a serving bowl.
- Just before serving, prepare the tadka (tempering). Place a small pan on medium heat and drop the ghee in it along with the sliced garlic. As the ghee heats up, the garlic will start to sizzle and in about a minute, it will start to turn a mild golden brown. Switch off the heat and drop the cumin seeds in the hot ghee, followed by the dry red chili or chili powder. Swirl the pan and let it sizzle for a few more seconds. Pour it on top of the daal and serve immediately.
USING PRESSURE COOKER METHOD:
- 1. In the pressure cooker (I used an electric pressure cooker) pour the oil and once it heats up, add the cumin seed and 1 crushed garlic plus the bay leaf. Let it sizzle for a while, then add the onion, salt to taste and turmeric powder. Stir around and let the onion cook for 2 minutes.
- 2. Drop the baby spinach and stir it around. Add the cumin powder and let it cook for 1 minute.
- 3. In the meantime, wash the lentil in several changes of water and add it to the pressure cooker. Mix it around, add the cherry tomatoes and cover the lid.
- 4. Pressure cook it for 20 minutes, then stir it around.
- 5. Just before serving, prepare the tadka (tempering). Place a small pan on medium heat and drop the ghee in it along with the sliced garlic. As the ghee heats up, the garlic will start to sizzle and in about a minute, it will start to turn a mild golden brown. Switch off the heat and drop the cumin seeds in the hot ghee, followed by the dry red chili or chili powder. Swirl the pan and let it sizzle for a few more seconds. Pour it on top of the daal and serve immediately.