Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spinach Dal (aka Dal Palak)

Hey friends, do you remember a while back when I posted about my favorite Spinach Dal from Savera restaurant in Pune, India? And how I went there in the last week of my trip and pleaded for the recipe (after having ordered it about 10 times in one month), and they finally broke down and wrote it out for me? And I was super happy! Except how they wrote things like "add the garlic and coriander," so I promised you I would do some experiments and make it into a proper recipe? Well, the deed is done!!

The first time I made it, I was pretty pleased with the results, but Mr. Vegan Eats & Treats said it was too garlicky. "Too garlicky" is a concept that does not exist in my world, but I had predicted this problem would arise. In fact, I remember sitting there in India - ooooohing and ahhing about the dal and saying "Mr VE&T would not like this, it has too much garlic for him!" Of course, I was right. Also, in the first batch, I used moong dal, which I didn't think cooked down quite to my tastes... the whole thing was a little lumpier than I wanted it.

So, I made a few little changes - reduced the garlic for Mr. VE&T (because I love him, I am willing to make this difficult sacrifice), and used red lentils (masoor dal) instead of moong dal. I made a few other little tweaks, and I thought the 2nd version was really great! I hope you'll give it a try and let me know what you think!

Spinach Dal (code name: Dal Palak)
1 1/2 lbs spinach (about 2 lbs before stemming)
1 c red lentils
4 cups water
1 Tbsp peanut oil (or less for low fat option)
4 cloves garlic, coarsely minced (you can use up to 8 if you like a very strong garlic flavor - like at the restaurant)
4 oz shallots, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed (or 3/4 tsp coriander powder)
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp red chile powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
more water, as desired
fresh lime, cut in wedges... for serving

Get Cookin':
Stem and wash all the spinach. Steam the spinach in a steamer basket until very tender (5-10 minutes). Remove from heat, transfer to a food processor and grind to a paste. Don't bother squeezing out the liquid before blending it up -a little liquid is fine. (I think you could probably use a blender too... maybe just add some of the spinach steaming water to help it blend). Set aside.

Add the red lentils and 4 cups water in medium sized pan with a tight-fitting lid. Over high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and allow to simmer until the lentils are completely tender... almost obliterated! (about 20 minutes). Once cooked, remove the lentils & their cooking liquid (don't drain!) from heat and set aside.

Once you've got the lentils simmering for about 10 minutes, warm the oil over medium-high heat in soup pot. Add the garlic, and saute until the garlicky chunks are truly golden, stirring frequently. Quickly add the minced shallots and ginger, stir it up, and then cook another 5-6 minutes until the shallots are tender. Stir it often to prevent the garlic from burning. Add in the coriander, cumin seeds, chile powder, turmeric, and salt. Stir for 30 seconds or so, then add in the spinach paste & cooked dal and stir to fully mix the spices and garlic mixture into the spinach and dal. Stir well, and bring to a simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Serve hot with a wedge of fresh lime and some rice.

Do the happy dance with me!


  1. This looks so good! I have a feeling I'll be giving this a try very soon (including the accompanying happy dance, of course). :) Thanks for sharing, Amey!

  2. How kind a sacrifice to cut back on the garlic! I can't wait to try this. Maybe I'll eat it, close my eyes, and pretend I'm in India too. And then open my eyes for the dance, so as not to trip over things...

  3. Thank you for this!! As I'm sure I have mentioned before, dal is one of my very favorite foods. I can't wait to make this!!

  4. ooh, sounds good! thanks for sharing!

  5. Yummy! Thanks for the recipe!

  6. susan3:29 AM

    Thanks for the recipe...will be trying this in the next few days. Why is Yummers not doing the happy dance?

  7. Thank you for persevering! I'm really looking forward to giving this a try.


  8. I'm definitely going to try that recipe - thanks for all your hard work figuring out the details! I think I will try it with lots of garlic.

    Hopefully I'll be doing the happy dance very soon!

  9. I've never tried dal, but this sounds amazing! I can't wait to try it. Thanks for the recipe.

  10. I bet I could eat like ten bowls of this stuff, thanks for sharing the recipe!

  11. I love the Spinach Dal Happy Dance picture! LOL That is so something I would do...I often do it for a yummy smoothie concoction!

  12. This was delicious. I am so glad you figured out how to make this, because it was awesome! Even with 6 cloves of garlic, I didn't find it that garlicky at all!

    Thanks for sharing. :)

  13. After reading rave reviews on the PPK, I had to try this, and I am a convert! The components came together perfectly, it was easy and delicious and so creamy and hearty and warming. Two thumbs up, an A+ and several snaps in a circle!

    This is so awesome! Thank you so much for sharing!

  14. I can't wait to try this - thank you so much for your tenacity in getting the recipe ;)

  15. I just made this recipe. It was easy and SOOO delicious! It probably took about an hour from the time I washed the greens. I actually used swiss chard because I didn't have spinach, and it turned out amazing.

  16. Casey5:52 PM

    This was delicious- thanks for sharing the recipe!

  17. I remember this recipe posted on the PPK ages ago and came here to look it up. :) Wondering if anyone has tried this with frozen spinach instead of fresh?


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