Palak Paneer with Dal / Spinach and Paneer Curry with Lentils

Palak Paneer with Dal / Spinach and Paneer Curry with Lentils

If you are wondering what dal is doing in Palak Paneer – do read on. My little boy might not have much of a memory of the few months with his nanny, but I sure am thankful for the many Punjabi dishes I learnt from her! She makes this really yummy version of palak paneer, with dal in it, which not only imparts such a silky smooth texture to the curry but also easily stretches the meal for a couple more diners by adding all that extra bulk to the dish. Also, it is a welcome change from the usual creamy sauce for most other paneer recipes. Don’t worry – if you had just tasted this recipe without reading through the prep method, there is no way you’d have guessed there was dal in it. It blends in beautifully with the curry and leaves nothing but a lingering taste that will bring you back for the second helping!

A very practical and nutritional choice for weekday dinners that can be wrapped up in less than 30 minutes!

Source: Our ex-Punjabi nanny

Cooking Time: Under 30 minutes

Serves: 6 – 8


  1. Paneer – 12 oz, diced
  2. Spinach – 1 bunch or 8 – 10 oz bag, cleaned
  3. Moong dal – 1/3 cup (or even lesser)
  4. Onions – 1 medium, chopped fine
  5. Tomatoes – 2 large, chopped fine or pureed
  6. Ginger – 1 tbsp, minced
  7. Garlic – 1 tbsp, minced
  8. Asafoetida / Hing – a pinch (optional)
  9. Red chili powder – 3/4 tbsp or to taste
  10. Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
  11. Garam masala – 1 tsp
  12. Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  13. Oil / Ghee or Butter – 2 tbsp
  14. Salt to taste


Prepare the spinach-dal mixture:

  1. Boil the moong dal with water (1:3 dal:water ratio) an hing. Mash lightly with a spoon when done and set aside.
  2. Cook the spinach in an open pan, with just a dash of water, until it reduces by losing its water and gets cooked. This helps retain the green color of the spinach leaves and keeps the nutrition in the greens mostly intact as well.
  3. Once the dal and spinach have cooled down a little, add them to a blender and pulse a couple of times to blend them but also take care to retain some texture in the mixture.

Alternatively, you can pressure cook the dal and spinach together with sufficient water and then blend the mixture too. It just imparts a darker color to the curry overall but does not interfere with the taste in any way.

Prepare the Punjabi masala:

  1. Heat some oil/ ghee in a pan.
  2. Add mustard seeds, jeera seeds and broken dry red chilies. Allow mustard to crackle.
  3. Add the chopped onions and some salt and cook on med-high until fully cooked and golden brown.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for a minute or two.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and dry spices (turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala) and cook with lid on for about 7-10 minutes on med-high, with lid on. Stir occasionally to prevent burning and cook until the oil separates from the mixture.

Bringing them together:

  1. Add the spinach-dal puree to the onion-tomato masala and combine.
  2. Let it simmer with lid on for a couple of minutes until the flavors come together well.
  3. Add the diced paneer and some water to bring to desired consistency (I added 1/3 cup water) and combine.
  4. Cook with lid on for a few more minutes until paneer is done and turn off the heat.

This is the best palak paneer recipe I’ve ever had and I personally think it goes really well with jeera rice. But rotis are a favorite accompaniment too!

6 Responses to “Palak Paneer with Dal / Spinach and Paneer Curry with Lentils”
  1. RSL says:

    Looking forward to trying this – could you please advise the quantities of mustard seeds, jeera seeds and broken dry red chilies?

  2. Suresh says:

    Tried this dish tonite and it came out really tasty… one more fan of your x Punjabi nannies yummalicious recipe !
    Thanks for sharing this recipe as we normally we don’t get this dish at restros …

  3. vandana says:

    i tried it and it was really tasty

  4. PoppyBhavan says:

    Deliciously Nutritious.

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