Spinach dal

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1 Cup Toor dal
3 to 4 Cups water
1 Tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 Bunch spinach, cleaned and chopped (leaves and stalks)
¾ lb ripe Roma tomatoes (or any cooking tomatoes), washed and chopped
1 Tbsp tamarind extract
1 Tsp salt; more if desired
¼ Cup cooking oil
1 Tsp cumin seeds
1 Tsp black mustard seeds
1 Small onion, thinly sliced
5 to 7 Dried red chilies, cut into 1 cm pieces
1 Handful dried or fresh curry leaves

This recipe uses a legume called toor dal. In English, this legume is called pigeon pea (or gungo pea, in some places). Split pigeon peas (called toor dal or tur dal) are used to make dals. You can find toor dal in some supermarkets and Indian grocery stores.

Tamarind is used in this recipe. Using real tamarind is ideal, but the tamarind extract used in this recipe works quite well. It is available in Indian grocery stores.


The cooking can be divided into three stages.

Boil 3 cups water. Add the dal, turmeric, and 1 tbsp cooking oil. Bring to a boil, lower the flame and cook for 30 to 35 minutes until the dal is almost cooked but not mushy. While cooking under low flame, be sure that the dal is cooking but not boiling over. Add more water if dal dries up.

Boil dal Cooked dal Spinach etc.

Add spinach, tomatoes, tamarind extract, and salt

Add chopped spinach, tamarind extract, tomatoes and salt . Let the dal reach a boiling point by covering the pot for a couple of minutes. Cover, lower the heat, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the dal and vegetables are well combined. Add some water if the dal dries up.

Add to dal Cook Seasoning


Heat ¼ cup cooking oil in a small pot, add cumin and mustard seeds and let them pop. Add onion, chilies, and curry leaves. Sauté until the onion begins to turn brown. Add the seasoning to the dal or the dal to the seasoning, stirring the seasoning well into the dal. Taste and add more salt if you wish.

Fry seasoning Brown seasoning Add dal

This dal can be made a day ahead. It keeps fresh in the fridge for about a week.

Before serving, heat thoroughly.

Serve with brown rice and an omelet, vegetable curry (easy sabzi), papaad, or kheema.

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© Meher Shaik 2012