One-Pot Spinach Dal
One Pot Spinach Dal- a simple yellow dal made with warming spices, split peas and spinach. A great source of vitamin A, C, iron and plant protein! (vegan + gluten-free)
This recipe has been a long time coming, y’all. It all started last year with my slow cooker, when I thought I could throw all of the ingredients into it and call it a day. Yeah, not so much.
There are some recipes that need a little extra TLC and I’ve found that most Indian dishes tend to follow this rule. Unless you want to use some kind of prepared sauce with random unknown ingredients in it which is not how I like to roll.
Ultimately I decided to ditch the slow cooker and try a method widely used in Indian cooking known as tadka, or tempering. This method involves heating whole or ground spices in hot oil (or ghee) and then adding it to a dish. The heat is thought to help the spices unlock their healing properties. It can be done at either the beginning or the end of the cooking process so I chose to prepare this dal by tempering at the beginning so that I could keep as easy as possible by making it in one pot.
It starts with heating oil (I wanted to keep it vegan so I used this blend of avocado oil instead of ghee) in a large pot then adding mustard and cumin seeds until they begin to make a crackling sound and change color. This step only takes a few seconds and you have to be careful not to burn yourself because the oil gets very hot and it will splatter once you add the seeds. I burnt the ish out of my chest the first time I tried it. If you have a splatter screen, now would be a great time to use it.
After that you add the vegetables: onion, fresh ginger, garlic, jalapeno, and diced tomatoes. Most dal recipes typically use fresh tomatoes but because it’s currently springtime, I chose to use a can of organic diced tomatoes, which have a BPA-free lining of course. Then you add in a few more ground spices (turmeric, coriander and cayenne) and let the vegetables absorb their flavors as they cook, for about 5 minutes.
Once the vegetables are soft, you add the yellow split peas with some water and bring to a low boil. The peas take about 30 minutes to cook and then the last step is to stir-in the spinach until it starts to wilt. After that it’s ready to eat!
With some whole wheat naan and brown rice. :)
Just a quick note, you could still make it in the slow cooker if you wanted to. You would just have to prepare it up until the point where you add the water with the peas and then throw everything in, except for the spinach which would get added at the end.
As complicated as it might seem, it’s actually fairly easy to make. Plus between all of the spices, vegetables, and peas you are getting a TON of healthy nutrients in one sitting. It’s the perfect warming meal on a chilly evening! Which I know some of you are still having since it snowed this past weekend. Gah! I can’t even begin to imagine. At least it gives you a reason to cozy up with a warm meal?
Sorry, I’m just trying to look at the bright side. Hang in there, it will be warm soon!
One-Pot Spinach Dal
Yield: 4 bowls
Prep Time: 15
Cook Time: 40
Total Time: 55
- 3 tablespoons high heat oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 jalapeños, cored and diced
- 2-inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 (15 ounce) can of diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 cup dry yellow split peas, soaked in water*
- 3 and 1/2 cups water
- 10 ounces spinach leaves, roughly chopped
- fresh cilantro for topping
- whole grain naan and brown basmati rice for serving
In a large pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Being careful to stand back as the oil will likely splatter, add the cumin and mustard seeds and allow to cook until they start to crackle and change color, for 10-15 seconds.
Add the diced onion, jalapenos, fresh ginger, and garlic along with the turmeric, coriander, cayenne and salt then stir together. Pour in the drained diced tomatoes and continue to cook over medium-high heat until they start to break down, for about 10 minutes. Mash them with the back of a spoon until they are macerated.
Stir in the presoaked split peas with 3 and 1/2 cups water then bring to a boil. Reduce to a low boil and allow to cook until the peas are soft enough to mash, for about 30 minutes. This may take longer depending on how old the peas are. Add more hot water as needed until they are thoroughly cooked. Use a spoon or a whisk to mash the peas.
Add the spinach to the pot and cook until it starts to wilt, for about 5 minutes. Serve warm with whole grain naan, brown basmati rice, and fresh cilantro then enjoy!
*Pick out any hard pieces then soak the peas in a large bowl covered with a few inches of water for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Drain and rinse before adding to the pot.
You can skip soaking the peas if you would like to make this in the slow cooker. Start by cooking the vegetables with the spices and oil as directed (thru step 2). Add the vegetables to the slow cooker along with the peas + 4 and 1/2 cups water, then cook on high for 4 hours. You may need to a little more hot water if it’s too thick. Stir in the spinach at least 20 minutes before eating (while the dal is still warm) so that it has time to wilt.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. To freeze, allow it cool to room temperature first then store in a freezer-safe container. Defrost for several hours before reheating on the stove top or in the microwave. If it’s too thick, add a little more water.
Did you try this recipe? Please let me know how it turned out by leaving a comment below or sharing a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #makingthymeforhealth. I love hearing your feedback!
Getting the authentic Indian flavor definitely is a challenge! I’ve always skipped the tadka-ing and used straight spices, but you just made me a uuuge believer! I’m itching to tadka my face off now, cause I luuurv me some Indian cuisine! This dal looks amazing, doll (buhdumching)!
I love the time and care you put into preparing this recipe. Those extra steps can seem cumbersome, but they’re so worth it in taste and flavor!! :)
What a lovely good looking plate of food, I make something similar and in the end I just add 2-3 cubes of frozen spinach …. love love love the spices
This has to be the prettiest bowl of food I’ve ever seen! I don’t even like Indian food and you have my drooling.
Dal is such comfort food! It’s 28º and snowy in CT right now (seriously, spring?) so I’m craving a big bowl of dal and rice right about now :) Pinning!
Ohhh I just pinned this! It looks AMAZING! I love those flavors. Definitely trying this soon!
I’ve actually never had indian food of any kind but this is making me rethink that! This looks so comforting and delish!
haha oh gosh yeah … there are certain recipes that are just so meh in the slow cooker! I’ve refused to give up in a few cases for far too long … lol so stubborn! This meal looks completely delicious – perfect for this time of year when it’s sorta warmer but not totally!!
This looks so, so, so yummy!! Will definitely make it soon.
You’re so right — some things just require more time and care, and this recipe looks like it paid off! This looks so delicious, Sarah, and I can almost smell all those spices just looking at it! I’ve never use yellow split peas and I’m dying to try them — this is a must-make!
Yea…I tried dumping all of the ingredients for a sweet potato stew that I make once into the slow cooker instead of cooking it on the stove. Lets just say I didn’t eat that stew that night, it required more care like how this lentil dal seems. It looks like such a comforting dish.
In India “dal” is must in everyday meal. Since it is a great source of protein.
Loved your version of making Dal. Thanks for sharing !!!
I would have no problem eating dal everyday. It’s so delicious and so healthy! Thanks Puja! :)
Sarah, I just started learning about Indian cooking this past year too… It is different than how I cook anything else due to the spices. I’ve been following @foodfashionparty and @thejamlab to learn more about it and have started cooking it more frequently. It IS so flavorful, I think, in part, due to exactly what you’ve described here; tempering (thank you for that!). I just started making dal this past fall… a tasty cauliflower one and eggplant. I am in love! So much flavor too… and worth the little bit of extra effort! This looks fabulous! Delicious work my dear! :D
Your cauliflower/eggplant dal sounds so good! I hope you’ll share it soon! :)
Oh my gosh! This looks so good! I’ve been wanting to make something like this! Such a beautiful bowl of goodness! Also, I love that it’s loaded with plants based protein! 15 grams per serving! Nice!
Thanks Cailee! I love how high in protein it is too. If you add brown rice, it’s even more! :)
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This is one of my top 10 favorite go-to recipes; it’s savory, full of authentic flavors, healthy, and delicious! I usually pair it with whole wheat naan, or add-in some fried tofu–SO GOOD.
Thanks for the awesome recipes!
That makes me so happy to hear! Thank you, Andrea! :)
this looks so amazing! any reason why one couldn’t use green peas instead of yellow?
Nope! Green peas will work the same. :)
I lived in India in the ’80’s and often made dahl. An easier way to make is with curry powder – just buy it from an Indian store. A lot less work and just as delicious. We serve it with basmati rice and plain yogurt and Indian pickle for a little more heat. Delicious!
Thank you very much, your ONE-POT SPINACH DAL Recipe was very tasty. Your recipe is very easy to follow. Certainly I will share this relationship with my relatives. My family will enjoy it Thanks
I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you!
Hey! This look lovely! I have just made it and it tastes amazing!! The only thing is that it was really really runny, like loads of water, and I even doubled the amount of the peas… Any thought?
It turned more like a soup
Did you use dry, uncooked split peas? They absorb the excess moisture as it cooks.
I just tried to make this and the flavor is wonderful but the peas will not soften. I’ve slow boiled it for hours now. I allowed the peas to soak for 24 hours in cold water. Most of them are still very very firm to the bite. Any suggestions?
That’s strange that even after hours they will not cook…if they are old sometimes they can take a little longer than 30 mins but never hours. Do you know how old the peas are?
Delicious! This recipe has the perfect spice kick. The second time I made it I substituted broccoli for the split peas and enjoyed it just as much.
Hi, we made this dish tonight and it is amazing! we all love it, however I was trying to find the nutrition facts and cannot locate them. Can you please include a link or the detail of it for us thank you so much!
Hi Don, I’m glad to hear you enjoy the dal! As for the nutrition facts, I had to remove them because the calculator I was using didn’t turn out to be accurate. I am working on getting a new one. Sorry for the inconvenience!
Looks very delicious :) I am going to cook this dish tomorrow :) I am pleased I found your blog as can find so many yummy recipes :)
Thank you, Ewa! I’m happy you found me as well. :)
Hi! I’m excited to try this! For those of you who don’t know, naan bread is made with yogurt and egg. I’m not sure about the whole wheat naan mentioned in the recipe, but if you go to a restaurant, the naan there is made this way. If you are vegan and want bread ask for roti, which looks more like a tortilla and is made with traditional bread ingredients, flour, water, salt, etc. I was heartbroken when I found this out as I am vegan and LOVE naan!!! I’m looking forward to making this recipe with lentils as we always have them on hand.
I later discovered this about naan and was so disappointed as well! It is my favorite. Now I usually toast tortillas or pita to go with it instead.
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Do you have a receipe to go with salmon, ie spicy vegetables, i have invited a Muslim friend and that is what she eats, I’m stuck, please help.
I do 15 minutes in the instant pot and let naturally release. Then I mash it all up with a potato masher before adding spinach.
I thought split peas did not require soaking. Recipe looks good. And this shows my ignorance but I always thought dal meant lentils.
Technically speaking you don’t have to soak any legumes but I prefer this step to help reduce phytic acid and shorten the cooking time. And dal can be made with either split peas or lentils. :)
So would any adjustment have to be made if I used yellow lentils for this recipe? It’s just that I have a big jar of yellow lentils and I only have green split peas.
I’ve never heard of yellow lentils…are you referring to red lentils? Red lentils cook much faster and require less liquid so you would have make adjustments but green split pease will work the same. :)
My mistake. I have a jar of moong dal and for some reason i thought they were lentils. My ignorance showing again. Sorry.
Not ignorance at all! I think there might be such a thing as yellow lentils, I’ve just never seen them myself and when I Google it, there seems to be conflicting information so I’m not sure. If you’re ignorant then so am I, lol!
I used split peas that my daughter received from a food pantry. I don’t know how old they were but I soaked them for 3 hours and simmered them for 3 hours and they still weren’t mushy. I finally gave up, added the spinach and ate it. I don’t like cilantro and I didn’t use rice or naan but I thought it was delicious!
I’m sorry, Eva! I hate it when that happens. :/ Maybe soaking them overnight next time will help?
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We got the same runny soup. Is it possible that we should be using split yellow pigeon peas(Toor Dal) instead of the ordinary yellow split peas we buy in Europe?
I’m not familiar with the differences so I’m not sure! Does the kind you used look like the picture in the post? Also, were the peas uncooked and that’s why it was a runny soup?
This is addictive! I have made it several times.
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