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!

You may also like:

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

xoxo

Sylvia

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
A healthy recipe for Lentil Dal with Spinach, sometime called Saag Dal, this is bursting with authentic Indian flavors!

Spinach Lentil Dal Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.8 from 122 reviews
  • 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

Units 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: 1 ¼ cup
  • 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

Share this with the world!

Subscribe
to get recipes via email

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

Comments

  1. If counting out 20 mint leaves seems annoying, and you’re tempted to just chuck in the whole bunch of mint…don’t do it! It will make your dal taste like a pure mint sauce!

  2. Can I freeze the sauce before adding the lentils?
    I want to use it along with butter chicken and/or lamb masala






    1. Hi Kath, it think it would freeze fine but the color may not be as vibrant green.

      1. I just made it with the mung beans and it was delicious!! Pressure cooked them for 4 minutes after soaking in hot water for an hour. Followed directions for the recipe from there. Also made the naan. Spinach from the garden;) Happy Spring!!

Our Latest Recipes