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Vegan Indian Dal with Spinach

vegan indian dal on rice in a white plate

Dal is a staple in Indian households. This recipe for vegan indian dal is certain to be a hit with you and your family!

Since becoming a vegan household, we have discovered and become enamored with Indian food. We began with experimenting with different tastes in restaurants because Indian food is often vegan or easily prepared as a vegan dish. We have had great discussions with owners and cooks over the yumminess of the plant-based dishes which, on any good Indian food menu, are abundant.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

Because we love to cook, we started to experiment with making Indian food at home and realized that once you have the commonly used spices on hand, the recipes are often really quite simple. The basic ingredients are usually legumes, vegetables, rice and/or potatoes, standard pantry fare, and can be substituted with a good degree of flexibility. Also, making it at home allows you to create amazing and healthy dishes using less fat. Plus there are some excellent resources like Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen that can get you started.

Good Spices Make Everything Better

I encourage you to try and find good quality spices. We have a nice, nearby, coop as well as a health food store, that both sells herbs and spices in bulk. Also, Greg recently found a fabulous Indian market in a nearby town which makes finding those special ingredients much easier. I find these shopping experiences to be the most fun and I love supporting local and small businesses. That being said, if you completely strike out in your area, you can often get them online.

Making the Vegan Indian Dal with Spinach

Initially, I reworked the original dal recipe simply to be vegan. But, as my confidence in cooking Indian food grew, I changed it further to make the dish, in my opinion, tastier and creamier. Honestly, I love this dish. It is inexpensive, beautiful on a plate, and the smells in my house when I am making it make everyone happy to be home for dinner. I serve it on rice and always figure on at least one to one and a half cups per person. It is the sort of dish that encourages second helpings!

If you like this recipe you may enjoy our Fragrant Lime and Cashew Rice Pilaf!

vegan indian dal
A delicious bowl of Dal on rice. Make some for dinner tonight!
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Vegan Dal with spinach - Full of Beans

Vegan Indian Dal with Spinach

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  • Author: Georgia @
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegan


Our vegan Indian dal has all the flavor and spice. It is inexpensive, beautiful on a plate, and fills the house with fantastic aroma! Try it!



Units Scale
  • 2 cups yellow split peas
  • 4+ cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 Tbs hot red chili sauce (I use Sriracha), add more to taste
  • 1 lb. spinach rinsed and chopped (I use frozen chopped leaf spinach)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp curry
  • 1 13.5 oz can light coconut milk
  • Cooked rice


  1. Rinse split peas and place in a large sauce pan or pot with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Boil for about five minutes, turn the heat off and let them soak for 2-3 hours.
    Alternatively, if you own an Instant Pot pre-cook the dal, covered with 1 inch of water for ten minutes. Then transfer to the large sauce pan.
  3. Add about a cup of water and bring it back to a boil, adding salt, turmeric and the chili sauce.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and stir frequently until the peas are tender (~20 minutes or so). If it starts getting to thick, add a little more water to keep it moving easily in the pot.
  5. While the peas are cooking, warm the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat and add the chopped onion, mustard seeds and cumin, stirring often. Cook until onions are transparent. Add to the pot once the peas are tender.
  6. Stir in the coconut milk, garam masala, and curry. When well blended add the spinach and cook until heated through.
  7. Serve over cooked rice.


If you have an Instant Pot you can save a lot of time on the pre-soak. See the alternate instructions in step #2.


  • Serving Size: 6


Georgia is an unpretentious foodie who, at 50, transitioned from a vegetarian diet to a whole foods plant based diet and is loving it. She works as a nurse, plays as a quilter, loves to run, hates to race.
She thinks dogs are actually angels (in dog suits).

This Post Has 41 Comments

  1. My daughter has decided she wants to become vegetarian and I know she is not getting enough nutrients since give up meat so want to incorporate this one into our entire family.. Seems like it is not a weeknight meal but a make the night before and eat as leftovers the following night or just only weekends.
    Looks great, anxious to make this version~Thanks!

    1. Hi Marylee, thats exciting about your daughter!
      When transitioning to vegetarian/vegan there is a adjusting of the amount of food that one eats since many of the dishes are relatively lower calorie but larger in volume. If a person eats enough calories of whole plant foods they will get more than enough nutrition, but it can be surprising just how much food that is!
      The Indian Dal with Spinach does require a little bit of prep time. It works for a weeknight if you have time to get the soak going (you could start it in the morning and leave it until evening) but you can also use a crockpot or pressure cooker. If you look through the comments at the bottom of the page there is a discussion of using a pressure pot.
      So glad that you are giving it a try! Its very tasty and highly nutritious. Please let us know how you like it!

      Peace, Georgia & Greg

    1. Hi, oh we totally understand. Any neutral vegetable oil you have on hand will be just fine for that. It’s just a tsp to cook the onions and spices. It’s a delicious dish – we hope you love it. Please let us know what you think and how it turns out for you!


    1. Thanks!
      We love it 🙂 and just made a batch yesterday!
      Give it a try and let us know what you think!

    1. Hi Laura!
      As a matter of fact we just made this the other night in our Instant Pot pressure cooker. Great minds must be thinking alike! 🙂
      It worked really well, to tell you the truth. Give it a shot – we bet it will be great!
      Thanks for checking out our site and being in touch.
      – Greg and Georgia

      1. I love my Instant Pot for dry legumes! And I love Spinach dal. (And Indian food for how vegan friendly it is.) How long did you cook your yellow split peas in the pressure cooker and on what setting (manual-high, which pressure release?) I find conflicting information. (And at what approximate elevation are you at? I live at almost 5,000 ft so I have to adjust my recipes). Thanks for posting! I’m excited to try this.

        1. Hi Amanda,
          Thanks for reading our blog and being in touch. 😄 We love how vegan friendly Indian food is, too, and have it often.
          I have tried this recipe in the Instant Pot a few different ways. The last time I cooked the split peas on their own for 10 minutes (manual), then I rinsed them, and placed them back in the pot with all the ingredients, reducing the water from the 4 cups in the recipe to 1 cup because the peas were sufficiently cooked. Cooked for 20 minutes more on manual. We have the LUX50 Instant Pot which doesn’t have pressure settings and we are at sea level. I hope this helps!
          Please let us know how it works out – having information about using pressure cookers and the adjustment required for elevation would be interesting and might be helpful for future readers.
          – Georgia

  2. Sounds delicious! When does the curry get added? I’m assuming it’s curry powder you’re talking about?

    1. Whoops!! Thanks for catching that and pointing out the error. We have updated the recipe – you add it at the end, with the coconut milk and garam masala, by the way.
      Thanks again!
      Greg and Georgia

  3. Learning how to make a good Dal is one of the must-learn things for the near future! Defintely my kind of recipe. Thanks!

  4. I’m with you, totally obsessed with Indian food. It’s so naturally vegan! I’ll have to try your dal, the Sriracha is an intriguing addition! 🙂

    1. Hi Hedi! Thanks a ton for checking out the post and for the nice comment. We have been a bit obsessed with turmeric lately, too.

        1. Caitlin,
          Absolutely try it and let us know. My suggestion would be to use cooked chickpeas as they take a lot longer to cook (from dry) than split peas. I often find myself subbing ingredients that I have on hand, or prefer.

          ~ Georgia

    1. Hi Danielle, thanks for the comment. You are so correct about the healthy qualities of this dish, we like to work turmeric into all sorts of things (even smoothies!).

      Greg and Georgia

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