Instant Pot Dal Palak recipe
makes 5 cups (about 3-4 servings)
First off, this recipe is written for the Instant Pot (a combo electric pressure cooker and slow cooker that has a cult following), but you can make it in an ordinary pot on the stove, just know that your cook time will be longer. (Similarly this will work in a regular pressure cooker, just cook according to your pressure cooker's directions.) However, the Instant Pot is the perfect vessel for making beans, whole grains, soups, stews and other recipes that typically need a lot of time on the stove since it can significantly speed up the cook time and pressure cooking allows some nutrients to become more bioavailable. You can try this method with any kind of lentil, but I like it here with mung dal (split and husked mung beans), my go-to staple for dal.
2 tablespoons of ghee or coconut oil
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
1 large red onion, finely chopped (can use yellow or white onion)
3 roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chile flake
1 cup mung dal, rinsed very well until water runs clear (could substitute red or yellow lentils)
2 1/2 cups of water
salt to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon of my himalayan salt)
1 5-ounce bag of baby spinach
juice from 1 lemon
1. Heat the Instant Pot on Saute with ghee or coconut oil. When it's hot, add cumin seeds and let sizzle for about 30 seconds, then add red onion and tomato. Let these saute and turn golden, about 5 minutes (during this time I rinse my mung dal very well).
2. Add turmeric, chile flake, and rinsed mung dal and stir to combine well. Add water and turn off Saute mode. Secure the lid and turn on high pressure cooking mode and set for 10 minutes (on my model you press manual, then toggle to the number 10. There is no start button or anything to press after setting the number 10). The pressure will build up (you'll hear steam coming from the release valve) and once it reaches pressure the time will count down from 10.
3. When you hear the beeping signaling that the time is up, you can press the cancel button (or let it stay on warming, the default) and let pressure come down manually for 10 minutes. Then release the rest of the pressure manually with the valve, give the pot a shake to make sure there aren't any trapped bubbles, release the valve again, and remove lid. Stir in salt and spinach (it will wilt very quickly) and lemon juice. Taste to season for more lemon or salt if desired.
Notes: This recipe took me 40 minutes from start to finish, including 30 minutes total once everything was in the Instant Pot (about 10 minutes to get up to pressure, 10 minutes cooking, then 10 minutes to come down from pressure.) You could probably get away with less cooking time, but I like my dal extra mushy with no gritty texture.