Spinach Dal


With headlines like “the big chill”, temperatures hovering around freezing and the days getting shorter, I needed comfort food stat.

While my husband waxes lyrical about a Sunday roast – and they are good!

My equivalent of a Sunday roast is a South Indian dal dish called Sambar, coupled with a spicy egg sambal, vege of some sort (usually beans in this household) and if I am feeling really gung-ho fried tofu. Oddly enough, as a child I never really appreciated just how much you could do with dal or how a couple of spices could transform this humble it into the heartiest of meals. I used to see it as more of side dish as opposed to the show stopper it is.

Not only is it inexpensive, healthy and protein rich but for me it brings me comfort, evoking memories of my childhood and family. However, not feeling particularly enthusiastic I decided to make something slightly simpler. ( and given that Dan loves it and demands it weekly, I needed a quicker fix to get him off my back for a while)

And so..we have Spinach Dal or as I remember it growing up Parappu Keerai – slightly simpler but just as hearty.

Ingredients ( 4 servings )

1 cup of dal (Masoor Dal is the red lentils/ Moong Dal is the petite yellow lentils – the latter takes slightly longer to cook)
150 grams of fresh spinach
1/2 a red onion (or shallots – about 5-6 will do)
3 cloves of garlic
1 tomato
1 green chilli
1 dry red chilli (or you can use two dried red chillies – it really is up to you)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon chilli powder
*can be omitted if not so keen on spicy food


2 tablespoons of oil/ghee
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon Asafoetida
2 dry red chillies
1 red onion
4 cloves of garlic
6 curry leaves


  1. Fry the onion, garlic, chillies in oil. Once slightly browned add the washed lentils and add 400mls of water to the dish. Add salt, tumeric powder, chilli powder and tomatoes and let the dals cook till they are soft.
  2. Once the dal is cooked ( when they are soft and can be mashed it with a fork) prepare the tempering.
  3. Heat some oil in a frying pan on low heat. Then temper the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and Asafoetida. Once you hear the mustard seeds splutter add the onions, chillies, garlic and curry leaves and sauté for about 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Add to the tempering to the dal and stir well.
  5. Add the spinach and let it cook for about 3 – 5 minutes.

Enjoy with rice/naan over candlelight – just for some additional hygge 😉

Spinach Dal

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