Savor the spices of India, chana dal, and spinach in this healthy vegetarian dish. A Pressure Cooker Dal With Spinach that cooks quickly, and packs so much flavor. It’s sure to be a favorite for #MeatlessMonday or any day when you’re looking for a filling and comforting bowl of vegetarian goodness!
I have to admit that I am too often guilty of thinking “inside the box” when using my pressure cooker (i.e. quickly cooking meats that need tenderizing), so I am loving the challenge of expanding my horizons. This vegetarian dal has no meat, but the pressure cooker has dry, unsoaked beans ready in a fraction of the time required on the stove top.
Making Dal With Spinach in an Instant Pot
Chana dal is my favorite of all of the Indian pulses. Pulses include beans, lentils, and peas. “Dal” is a split pulse. Chana dal is a split chick pea. Read A Guide to Indian Dal, Lentils, Beans, and Pulses for an in depth look at Indian pulses.
Chana dal retains its texture longer than many of the pulses I have cooked with, and I love the textural contrasts in this dish – creamy Greek yogurt, wilted fresh baby spinach, and the al dente chana dal. Served with fluffy basmati rice, it provides complete proteins, and is loaded with nutrients and fiber.
This entire dish can be completed in the pressure cooker. I have a stove top Presto cooker, but since moving to a house with a glass cook top, I rely more on my Power Pressure Cooker XL.
If you’re cooking on a glass cook top, you’ll want to use two burners to avoid problems associated with burners that don’t respond quickly. Once the cooker comes to pressure, move it to a pre-heated burner. Mine works best on a fairly low setting, but it will depend on your cook top.
Most electric pressure cookers have the ability to sauté in the pot prior to pressurizing. You may have a special button for sauté, but mine will sauté on any setting as long as the lid is off.
The onion/ginger/garlic mixture gets sautéed in a bit of oil, then the black mustard seeds, red chiles, and freshly ground spices are added. Lastly, add the rinsed and sorted chana dal, and the broth or water. Lock the lid, and pressurize according to your model’s instructions for beans/legumes. Then, do a quick natural release of about 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach, and serve over basmati rice. Garnish with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.
I think you will be amazed at the slow-cooked flavors this dish develops in such a short amount of time!
Pressure Cooker Dal With Spinach
- 2″ piece of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 to 2 tablespoons canola, coconut, or vegetable oil
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 3 small, dried red chiles, split
- 1 tsp coriander seed
- 1 tsp cumin seed
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
- 2 cups chana dal, rinsed thoroughly and sorted
- 6 cups vegetable broth or water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach, rinsed and drained well
- plain Greek yogurt
- cilantro, chopped
Add coarsely chopped ginger, garlic, and onion to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until the mixture is pureed.
Heat the oil in the pressure cooker pot to saute (medium-high on stove top). Add the onion mixture, the black mustard seeds, and the red chile pieces. Saute until the mustard seeds begin to pop.
Grind the coriander seed, cumin seed, and fenugreek together in a spice grinder. Add to the pot. Sautee 1-2 additional minutes, being careful to not burn it.
Add the chana dal, broth or water, salt, garam masala, and turmeric.
Lock the pressure cooker lid in place. Set according to your model’s setting for beans/legumes (about 7 minutes), or on the stove top, cook on high pressure for about 5 minutes. Allow the dal to release pressure for about 10 minutes during which time, the chana dal will continue to cook. At 10 minutes, release any remaining pressure.
Add the spinach to the pot, and stir to combine. Check for seasoning.
Serve the chana dal over basmati rice (white or brown). Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt, and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
The recipe is written using chana dal, one that requires a little more cooking time. Adjust the cooking time if using a different pulse.
I live in south Texas, and chile de arbol are readily available. Use your preferred dried red chile, substitute a bit of crushed red pepper, or omit entirely according to preference.
I grind my spices in a personal blender using one of the small cups. It works really well.
More Globally-Inspired Recipes From Beyond Mere Sustenance:
Tropical Pressure Cooker Fish In Banana Leaves (Or Parchment) – Tender white fish with a Thai curry marinade cook lightening fast in the pressure cooker, and get topped with a fresh mango salsa.
Korean Chicken Thighs In the Pressure Cooker – The salty, spicy, umami, and sweet flavors of Korean gochujang provide the base for this savory, saucy, succulent recipe for chicken thighs.
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