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.