Although a year-round favorite in our home, I can’t think of a better time than the changing seasons to bring you this slow-cooker recipe for yet another amazing Indian lentil preparation, Palak Chana Daal (check out other lentil preparations- Daals under my category ‘Lentils and Other Grains‘.)
Adding wholesomeness to any meal as an entree or a side, this steaming slow-cooked Indian lentil and spinach preparation is made using gram lentils (Chana Daal) and fresh spinach along with Indian aromatics and spices.
Although I find that an electric slow-cooker is a fool-proof method to a delicious steaming pot of Indian lentils-Daal; I’ve also offered alternative ways to make this Daal in the pressure cooker or on the stove top.
- 2 cups yellow gram lentils (see note)
- 2 packed cups of fresh spinach, chopped (or use ½ cup frozen spinach)
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste (3-4 cloves garlic & 1 inch ginger, grated)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground red chili or Cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garam masala (adds great flavor but can be left out if unavailable)
- 2 ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons lime/lemon juice
- Wash and drain the lentils. Add them to a slow cooker insert with 4 cups of water.
- Mix in the spinach, onions, ginger and garlic, all the spices (except garam masala which gets added later,) salt and tomatoes. Cover and cook the lentil and spinach preparation in a slow cooker on a high setting for 4-5 hours or low setting for 8 hours.
- Once cooked, sprinkle garam masala (if using) and add the lime/lemon juice to the Daal. Check for salt, adding more if desired.
- Cook the onion, ginger-garlic, spices, salt and tomato in a tablespoon of oil in the pressure cooker bowl. Next add cleaned, washed lentils, spinach and enough water to cover the lentils. Once the pressure is reached, cook on a medium-low flame for 10-15 minutes. Prior to serving, sprinkle garam masala and lemon/lime juice over the cooked lentils and serve hot.
- Cook the onion, ginger-garlic, spices, salt and tomato in a tablespoon of oil in a deep pan with a fitting lid. Add the cleaned, washed lentils and spinach, along with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook the lentils on medium heat till the grain is done (add more water as required.) Serve hot, sprinkled with garam masala and lime/lemon juice.
- Daal-Indian lentils have a consistency somewhere between a stew and a thick soup; Daal is a satisfying meal when served as a piping hot entree with a dash of lemon, over aromatic basmati rice, or with regular crusty bread or warm Indian bread like chapati, roti or naan. Steaming Daal makes a great side dish to your choice of meat or vegetables and is a staple element of any home cooked Indian meal.
- If you can't find gram lentils in your grocery store, use the best variety of split yellow lentils available. Yellow 'toor' or split pigeon lentils and moong or mung lentil make a good substitute for gram lentils, although keep in mind that moong lentils are a quicker cooking lentil varietal.