Pressure Cooker Dal With Spinach

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Dal With Spinach is an Indian stew recipe that cooks quickly in a pressure cooker, and packs so much flavor! Savor the spices of India, chana dal, and spinach in this healthy vegetarian Instant Pot recipe. Pressure cooker Dal with spinach is sure to be a favorite for Meatless Monday or any day when you’re looking for a filling and comforting bowl of vegetarian goodness!

glazed pottery soup bowl filled with Pressure Cooker Dal With Spinach next to a dish of fluffy white rice

Hi there! It’s Tamara from Beyond Mere Sustenance with a pressure cooker adaptation of one of my favorite recipes – Chana Dal With Spinach – and one I’ve cooked for decades.

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 pressure cooker dal is vegetarian, but the pressure cooker has dry, unsoaked beans ready in a fraction of the time required on the stove top. 

white bowl of Pressure Cooker Dal With Spinach served over white rice

Making Dal with Spinach in an Instant Pot

An Instant Pot is one of the most popular brands of electric pressure cookers. They are easy to use and your Instant Pot can help you create this delicious recipe for Dal With Spinach!

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 pressure cooker Dal develops in such a short amount of time!

How to Make Pressure Cooker Dal with Spinach

Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Dal With Spinach in a white bowl

Pressure Cooker Dal With Spinach

Yield: 8 servings


  • 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.

To Serve

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.

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