Both the girls need their dal (lentils) at least once a week and I love it! It makes me so happy that they turn to Indian food for comfort and norm. I try to vary out the dals that I feed them so they get a variety of nutrients and flavors and I get to rotate my lentils.
Toor dal or pigeon peas, are high in protein and fiber and don’t pack a lot of calories. Combined with the iron, calcium, potassium and folate in the spinach, this dish counts as a superfood in my mind. The fact that my girls love it…… score!
This week, Sanaya came up to me and asked me what was for lunch. Honestly, it was 11am and I hadn’t even thought of lunch. So I asked her what she wanted and I was hoping she would say chicken nuggets (yes, believe it or not, I do stock those. Usually I don’t, but in times of quarantine, I stocked up on pretty much everything I could think of…. and get my hands on).
She instead asked for Kali Dal. While I would normally oblige her for any of her healthy requests, I couldn’t with this one because of the timing. It actually takes me about an hour from prep to opening the instant pot for the kali dal.
I digress though. So I asked her if she would eat spinach dal instead as that would take me 15 minutes to make, with only 5 minutes cooking in the pot (literally from prep to serving!) and it is a pantry essential for me as I always have the ingredients on hand. Luckily, she acquiesced. Even Aishani was excited about spinach dal.
Recently, my girls have decided they like spinach because it makes their muscles bigger with each bite like Popeye! They eat it in their dal, in soups, in salads (a recent occurrence I assure you), their tacos, and sometimes, just the raw leaves. Initially, both P and I were surprised but went with it. Now, I take quiet pride and thank Popeye for ever existing.
This spinach dal is one of the easiest and most basic Indian dals ever and I love it because it a one pot stop, filled with nutrition, and a family favorite. Honestly, I have to stop talking about it so I don’t jinx how good this is.
Just a tip, I make this in the instant pot but you can also make it in the pressure cooker the same way. I’ll include the variations in my notes.
Try it out and see for yourself.
From my kitchen to yours, I really hope this becomes your house staple.
1 c toor dal
2 c spinach, chopped
2 med tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp Avo oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp hing, Asafoetida (totally ok if you don’t have this on hand)
1 Tbsp ginger paste
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
3 c water
Wash the toor dal in water until it runs clear. Keep the dal soaked in water until ready for use.
Set the instant pot to sauté mode. Add 1 Tbsp oil, and let it heat up. Add in 1 Tbsp cumin seeds and all of the hing. Once the cumin seeds start spluttering, add in the garlic and ginger and sauté for about 1 minute until they turn a golden brown.
Add in the tomatoes and mix well. Add in the salt, turmeric, cayenne pepper, coriander powder, and the cumin powder. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Drain the water from the dal and add it to the tomatoes. Mix well and cook for 2 minutes.
Add in the 3 cups of water and mix everything well.
Cover the instant pot with the vent in sealing position. Change the setting to manual or pressure cook and set the time for 5 minutes.
When the instant pot beeps, do a quick release of the pressure and open the instant pot. Change setting to sauté once again, and add in the spinach.
On the side, heat up the remaining 1 Tbsp oil in a small pan. Add in the cumin seeds and wait for them to start spluttering. Once they start to pop, add in the garam masala and let it bloom for 30 seconds. Add this mixture to the dal and stir.
Spinach dal is ready to serve hot with naan, roti, or jheera rice!
Follow the above directions exactly up to the 3 cups of water in the dal. Once you add it in, let the dal cook for about 30 minutes, with frequent stirring. When the dal is cooked, add in the spinach and the tempered garam masala.
For pressure cooker:
Follow the above directions exactly up to the 3 cups of water. Once you add the water, cover the pressure cooker lid and cook until you hear 3 whistles. Turn off the heat and let the pressure release naturally.
Open the lid and add in the spinach and tempered garam masala.