Dal with Spinach

2016-04-12 17.24.17RECIPE #225, DAY #291


ORIGINAL RECIPE: From years of experience and the long-ago instruction of a Malaysian woman*

TIMING: 20 minutes

DIFFICULTY: Easy and simple

TOOLS: Just a medium sauce pan and something to stir with

COOK TYPE: Stovetop

HEALTH: You can’t go wrong, health-wise, with this one. You just can’t.

EXPERIENCE: This is one of my all-time favorite things to make and eat. Back in the days when my palate was just beginning to open (in college), a friend of mine brought her visiting, Malaysian mother over to our house to make us dinner. She made this simple, ubiquitous porridge, and I have never been the same.

Now, I think of dal as the Indian version of American Spaghetti Bolognese. It’s fast. You have the ingredients on hand. It’s a no-brainer. And it’s also homey and nourishing.

This is one of the better dals we have had, even though I made up the recipe as I went along. It’s fairly standard. Eventually, I will have recipes here for our Simple Dal and Our Favorite Dal.

NOTES: Lentils always need to be rinsed and picked through for stones before using them.

You will need mustard seeds and red lentils. These are all helpful things to keep stocked for when you are making Indian food, but you may need to visit a specialty market to attain them.

Cilantro is not strictly necessary, but man do I love it.


  1. In a medium sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil over medium heat. When hot, add 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds and swirl them till they pop.
  2. Add 1/2 minced onion and stir until onion is soft. Add 2 cloves sliced garlic, 1/2 inch grated ginger, and 1 teaspoon turmeric and stir for 30 seconds.
  3. Add 2 cups water or broth and 1 cup red lentils along with a hefty pinch of salt. Stir, then cover and reduce heat to keep at a low simmer. Check every 5-10 minutes to keep the porridge slightly runny. Add more liquid, if necessary. After about 15 minutes, lentils will be very soft. Add 1 small package/bunch of spinach and stir until it is just wilted.
  4. Remove from heat and taste for salt. Then stir in 2 tablespoons butter (or, even better, ghee), the juice of 1/2 lemon, and 1 handful of chopped cilantro.


Serve with chapati or naan, plain yogurt, and chutneys of choice. I like a mint and onion relish.

*Recipe has been changed from the original.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s