Every once in a while when I think of what I should cook for dinner that’s simple, delicious and hearty nothing is more perfect than a bowlful of warm dal. It reminds me what I love about autumn and winter months. Its spells comfort food and its amazing what a few spices can do to lift the flavour of the humble lentil.
There are so many ways to cook Dal and also some amazing regional varieties which are definitely worth trying all using different spices with a unique cooking technique. My to go is a simple tadka dal that you can find in most households. Indian will always cook dal along with some rice or chapatti, pickle and papad but the best way to make it even more hearty and get our fill of vegetables is adding them to the dal while its cooking. Palak dal is one of the most popular Indian recipes for dal with the addition of spinach leaves. Cooked with garlic, cumin and chilli its delicious with chapattis or poured over plain rice.
Although this recipe includes spinach you can use any greens. I’ve used moong dal which is creamy in texture making it thick and is also great for you but feel free to swap it for toor dal if you prefer.
In a heavy bottom sauce pan cook the dal along with the water, turmeric and asafoetida for 25-30 minutes over a medium heat. Cool slightly and mash the dal roughly with a potato masher or back of a large spoon.
In a large non stick sauce pan heat the oil or ghee over a medium flame. Add the cumin seeds followed by the garlic, ginger and green chilli
Fry for a few seconds and add the cooked dal along with 150mls of water. Simmer for 2 minutes
Add the chopped spinach and season to taste. Continue to simmer on a low heat for a further 2 minutes. Stirring to make sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan
Add lemon juice and turn the heat off. Serve warm with chapatti or rice.
Note: As it cools the Palak Dal will get thicker so add a little more water if you wish