Simple dal series – Part 3, tuar dal with spinach

(Part 2 of this series is here.)

Here is the pigeon-pea, which has nothing whatsoever to do with pigeons, except that they are both full of protein:

Pigeon pea, tuar dal

Pigeon pea, tuar dal

Tuar dal

Tuar dal

And here is some dementia-fighting spinach:



And this is what you get when you marry them: spinach dal.

Spinach dal

Spinach dal

Eat enough of this, and you will be lifting weights while remaining completely undemented. But that’s not all. Spinach is a good choice to put into any dal, because it melts in, rather than remain in bits. Whether your intention is a soupy dal or more of a porridgy one, spinach fits right in.

Spinach with tuar dal

Ingredients, for boiling:

IMG_0533[1] IMG_0535[1]

IMG_0539[1] IMG_0540[1]

  • Half a cup tuar dal (dehulled and split pigeon peas)
  • spinach — one bunch (use half a bunch if you want it more yellow than green)
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1-2 serrano chilies
  • half a teaspoon turmeric

Ingredients, for seasoning (all of these are optional, but do try to use at least one spice):

Seasoning spinach dal

Seasoning spinach dal

  • 1-2 tablespoon ghee
  • sprinkle of asafetida
  • half teaspoon mustard seeds
  • half teaspoon cumin seeds
  • half teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • half teaspoon or to taste red chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • Half a lime or lemon squeezed


Rinse and soak the dal in hot water for an hour or more. It will double in volume, or more. Put the drained dal in a thick-bottomed pot along with the turmeric, garlic, and chili. Add two and half cups water and bring to a boil.

Now. I say this with every dal recipe but it bears repeating. When dal first comes to a boil it will froth up with the rage of a volcano. Let it do so while the pot is uncovered. This way you can watch and the foam is not likely to end up on your burner. Once the foam has spent itself, partially cover, turn it down to simmer for an hour and half.

In the middle of cooking time, put in the washed and chopped spinach. Cover and cook on until the dal grains are soft. Give the soupy stuff a whisk with a whisk or a swoosh around with one of these, a mandheera. Add salt and keep it on a low simmer.

Spinach dal before seasoning

Spinach dal before seasoning

Now for the seasoning. Heat the ghee on medium high heat. By the way this is one dish where I do recommend ghee rather than oil because it enhances the flavor in a very nice way. Of course oil would work too.

When the ghee is completely melted, throw in the seasonings in this sequence: first, the asafetida and the red chili powder; then the cumin seeds; when they sizzle, the mustard seeds; when they pop, the fenugreek seeds. Don’t cook these longer than about 10 seconds, because they will turn bitter if so.

Turn off the heat and pour into the dal. Stir, stir, stir. Simmer for a few minutes to meld the flavors. Squeeze some lemon/lime juice to it to brighten the flavor.

I love this dish with rice but other people recommend rotis. I never would, so there.


Rice with spinach dal


6 thoughts on “Simple dal series – Part 3, tuar dal with spinach

  1. I never knew from where the dal came from, thanks to you I know how it looks like in the bush(?). Another funny thing is I have seen a local Thai market sell these just as seen in your picture i.e green and in the pod. Next time I see these in the market again, I’m def going to buy it 🙂


  2. Love this recipe! I do a similar dish with S.Indian sambhar powder and tamarind for acidity. Also instead of thoor dhaal, sometimes I use french green lentils.


  3. First of all I would like to say great blog! I had a quick question that
    I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to
    know how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing.
    I’ve had a hard time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out.

    I do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to
    15 minutes are usually lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints?

    Thank you!


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