This Lentil Dal with Spinach Sauce is one of the most delicious, soul-satisfying plant-based, Indian meals! This version is fragrant, flavorful and packed with nutrients- think of this like Saag Paneer, but substituting black lentils instead of the cheese! Super tasty and healthy. See 30-Second Video!

A healthy recipe for Lentil Dal with Spinach, sometime called Saag Dal, this is bursting with authentic Indian flavors!

This recipe for Spinach Lentil Dal, which I’ve nicknamed “Emerald Dal” because of its beautiful rich color was such a comforting meal to make this week. Somehow it feels so grounding and nurturing.  Not only is it wholesome and nutritious, but it is also bursting with authentic Indian flavor -and honestly, I can’t wait to make it again!

To make this Lentil Dal with Spinach Sauce you’ll need a full pound of spinach. You can use frozen spinach if you like but fresh spinach is in the season I am taking advantage of it.

How to make Emerald Dal | 30-second video


How to make Spinach Lentil Dal

prepping the ingredients

Step 1: Chop the onion, garlic, ginger and chili pepper. If you like heat, add more chili pepper.

chopping onion, garlic, chilies and ginger

Step 2: Saute the onion garlic & chili pepper in ghee and add the spices. Feel free to use coconut oil, but ghee truly elevates this dish.

Here I’m using black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and garam masala which you can make at home.

sautéing onion, garlic and ginger and green chilies in ghee

Step 3: Then add the fresh spinach, a little water, cover, and wilt over low heat for just a few minutes.

add spinach to the pan and wilt it

A pound of spinach will wilt down into about 2 cups- if that. 

wilting the spinach for spinach lentil dal

Step 4: Blend the spinach sauce with a little water to form a spinach puree. It doesn’t need to be smooth unless you prefer it that way. Look how bright and green it is!

blending the spinach sauce for the dal

Step 5: Pour the spinach sauce back into the pan- and don’t overheat this or you will lose the gorgeous color!

fragrant green spinach sauce in a pan

Step 6: Then fold in the cooked lentils I add somewhere between 3-4 cups of cooked caviar lentils.  And I love these little black lentils most of all because they cook so quickly!!!

cooked lentils

TIP #1: I cook lentils using the pasta method. Cook in ample salted water until tender, then strain. That way you don’t have to have exact measurements with the water to lentil ratio. It is very forgiving!

TIP #2: Using 3 cups of cooked lentils (instead of 4) will lend a “saucier” (more flavorful) dal which I prefer. But if you have 4 people in your family, I’d just add another cup of lentils. 🙂

spinach lentil dal in a pan

Step 7: Then stir in a little plain yogurt which will add creaminess and a touch of tanginess.

stir in the yogurt

Step 8: Taste. Adjust salt and heat to your liking. You want this slightly salty if serving over rice. A little squeeze of lemon or lime juice is nice here too!

Tip #3: Remember, do not overheat the spinach lentil dal or you’ll lose that lovely vibrant emerald color!

making naan bread

Tip #4: At the same time as I’m making the dal- I’m also pan-searing naan bread, and cooking basmati rice to go with it.

fluffy BASMATI RICE

Spinach Lentil Dal- lovingly called Emerald Dal here at home…a simple and tasty combo that can be made in 30 minutes if you cook the lentils ahead!

Yes, you can eat it like lentil soup if you prefer. 🙂

A simple healthy recipe for Spinach Lentil Dal in the most fragrant Spinach Sauce, infused with mint and Indian Spices. Authentic flavors!

What to serve with Lentil Spinach Dal?

  1. Basmati rice
  2. Naan Bread
  3. Indian Potatoes and Cauliflower 
  4. Instant Pot Tikka Masala 
  5. Raita!
  6. Mint Chutney 
  7. Indian Butter Chicken
  8. Rajasthani Potatoes
  9. Authentic Chai!
  10. Chai Cookies! 

A simple healthy recipe for Spinach Lentil Dal in the most fragrant Spinach Sauce, infused with mint and Indian Spices. Authentic flavors!

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Enjoy the grounding, nourishing Spinach Lentil Dal this week and let me know what you think in the comments below!

xoxo

Sylvia

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A healthy recipe for Lentil Dal with Spinach, sometime called Saag Dal, this is bursting with authentic Indian flavors!

Spinach Lentil Dal REcipe

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 3-4 1x
  • Category: vegetarian, main, legumes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Spinach Lentil Dal Recipe- an Indian lentil recipe with a flavorful spinach sauce that is full of flavor and nutrients and that can be made in 30 minutes. Serve with Basmati Rice, and naan bread!


Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

  1. If cooking black lentils and basmati rice, start them first (see notes)
  2. Make the Spinach Sauce: Sautee the onion in ghee, in a large pan, over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then add garlic, ginger and chilies. Saute until fragrant and golden. Add the fennel seedsmustard seeds, cumin seeds and garam masala and stir two minutes. Lower heat to low. Add the fresh spinach, fresh mint, fenugreek and 2 tablespoons water. Cover pan, 2-3 minutes, letting spinach wilt. Give a few stirs. Don’t overcook!
  3. Blend Spinach Sauce: Place the wilted spinach mixture in a blender and add the 3/4 cups of water. Pulse and few times (hold the lid down tight). If you want a smooth sauce, blend until smooth. I left a little texture here.  Pour it back into the pan, set on low heat. Don’t overheat or you will lose the pretty color.
  4. Combine: Stir in the yogurt, lentils and salt. Taste. Adjust salt to your liking, adding more if necessary! You want this slightly more salty because you are serving over rice which will mellow it out a lot. For more heat add a pinch of cayenne or chili flakes. To “up” the flavor even more, add a bit more garam masala spice to taste. If you want a little acidity a tiny squeeze of lemon is nice.
  5. Serve with the basmati rice and naan bread!
  6. Emerald Dal will keep up to 4 days in the fridge.

Notes

Cook black lentils according to package or try the pasta cooking method: simply boil 1 1/4 cups dry lentils in 6 cups of salted water until just tender, strain. The size of lentil will determine cooking time. Little black lentils take 20-30 minutes. Feel free to sub other whole lentils for the black lentils.

SPINACH: If using fresh spinach, be sure to use baby spinach, as mature spinach and their stems can be bitter.

Yes, you can sub coconut oil or butter for the ghee– but in my opinion, the ghee really elevates and adds so much flavor.

Feel free to bump up the spices and heat (add more chilies and spices).

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 360
  • Sugar: 5.1 g
  • Sodium: 694.7 mg
  • Fat: 9.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 49.7 g
  • Fiber: 10 g
  • Protein: 22.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 19.9 mg

Keywords: lentil dal, black lentil dal, Indian dal recipe, dal with spinach, saag dal, saag dal recipe, spinach dal, lentil dahl

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Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

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Comments

  1. Excellent recipe! Thank you, both color and taste are lovely. ps. We forgot to get fenugreek but it tasted really good either way. We used regular spinach and Kite hill vegan almond/soy yogurt.

  2. Love this recipe!! It’s versatile enough to exchange ingredients that you have in the pantry & the color is always fantastic

  3. I made this with baby spinach and also found it very bitter. I’m wondering if it’s the dried fenugreek leaves. I have never made anything with them before and when I google their flavor it says they can be bitter? Even though it was bitter, it was a different kind of bitter, that’s why I’m wondering if it was the fenugreek leaves. My family and I still loved it. I just stirred in more greek yogurt. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the feedback- I was wondering what was doing that! Didn’t even think of the Fenugreek.

        1. Hi Samia, I bet it would freeze just fine. You may lose the vibrant green color but the flavors would still be there. 🙂

  4. Hi. I have a question. I just made this . And it is quite bitter. What could have caused that? The only change I made I used 1/2 tsp. cumin powder instead of 2 tsp cumin seeds. I’d really appreciate your reply. Thank you.

    1. Interesting Mila- Some others have reported the same thing. Did you use baby spinach?

  5. this was a great recipe! i’m trying to cook more vegetarian and this made a perfect dinner. i never realized how much a pound of spinach is, and while cooking I thought it was going to be too much but it worked out perfect. i took the advice to add extra spice because of the rice. i couldn’t get naan at the grocery story so i used lavash instead. def going to make this again!

  6. Made this on a whim as I had a bunch of spinach to use up. Now my go to comfort meal, absolutely delicious. Freezes well – so perfect to pull out for dinner after a busy day. Thanks Sylvia!

  7. The meal was just amazing and so easy to make, thank you so much for the reciepe. Also it is not written in the ingredients but put mint leaves like in the picture it really makes a difference.

    1. Hi Nicolina- glad you liked this. Mint leaves are included in step two. 🙂