An overhead shot of dal palak in a white bowl. On the side is a maroon kitchen towel and a small bowl filled with chili powder

Spinach and Tomato Dal

This mildly spiced, creamy version of Spinach and Tomato Dal (Dal Palak) makes for a delicious and nutritious main course served with hot cooked rice.
Course Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Stovetop
Method Instant Pot
Diet Nut-free, Vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 143kcal
Author Anushree Shetty


  • 1 cup yellow split peas toor dal, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon each cumin and coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons clarified butter ghee or oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red chili powder such as Kashmiri
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups or one 28 oz can tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or water
  • 1 tablespoon squeezed lemon juice
  • 8 oz trimmed fresh spinach leaves chopped
  • Plain dairy or vegan yogurt optional


  • In a large saucepan, combine rinsed split peas with 4 cups (1 L) fresh water. Bring to a boil. Skim off any foam. Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer until peas are very tender, about 30 minutes. Drain. (Alternatively, pressure cook dal with 2.5 cups water in a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot. If you are using a pressure cooker, cook the dal till the vent goes off twice)
  • In another large saucepan, toast cumin and coriander seeds over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to mortar and grind to a powder.
  • In same pan, heat clarified butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in salt, chile powder to taste, turmeric and reserved cumin mixture. Season to taste with black pepper.
  • Stir in tomatoes and juice, and bring to a boil. Stir in drained cooked split peas, stock and lemon juice. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors are melded, about 5 minutes.
  • Add spinach, in batches, stirring to submerge each before adding the next. Cover and cook until spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes.
  • Ladle into warm serving bowls. Drizzle to taste with yogurt (if using).


Dal is the word for both split pulses (such as split peas or red lentils) and the dishes made from them.
If you are cooking for someone who is gluten-free, check labels on packaged ingredients, such as stock. They can contain gluten.
To rinse split peas before cooking them: Place split peas in the saucepan in which they will be cooked and cover with water. Using your hands, rub the peas together until the water becomes very cloudy. Drain. Repeat 3 more times or until the water is clear. Proceed with Step 1.
You will need about 8 cups (2 L) chopped fresh spinach leaves. For convenience, you can substitute 1 package (10 oz/300 g) frozen spinach, thawed, for the fresh.
The yogurt adds a pleasantly creamy finish—if you are avoiding dairy, you can omit it or substitute a vegan version.


Calories: 143kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 444mg | Potassium: 545mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 3255IU | Vitamin C: 16.7mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 2.2mg