Five-Dal Soup With Spinach

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Five-Dal Soup With Spinach

This is a delicious and hearty thick soup that is perfect for regular family lunches or as part of a more elaborate dinner. The five dals, or split beans, are easily available in any Indian grocery store. Although it takes quite a while to cook, the preparation is actually very simple, and the soup will keep in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for days. The final addition of a pan of seasonings and spices fried in oil makes for a quick burst of fantastic flavors that permeate the soup and will have your family or guests asking for seconds.

Five-Dal Soup With SpinachFive-Dal Soup With Spinach
Recipe by
Adapted from Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking
Cuisine: Indian
Published on March 26, 2007

Five split dals cooked in a creamy, spicy and fragrant soup with fresh spinach

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  • 3 tablespoons split mung dal, without skins
  • 3 tablespoons urad dal without skins
  • 3 tablespoons toor dal or yellow split peas
  • 3 tablespoons chana dal
  • 3 tablespoons green split peas

Five Dals

Other ingredients:
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or a mixture of butter and oil
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach or chard, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 4 fresh red or green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
  • Rinse the dals and cover with 7 cups of water in a large soup pot. Let the dals soak for at least 2 hours.

  • Add the ginger, turmeric, ground coriander and one tablespoon of the ghee or butter and oil mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or until the dals are tender.

  • Remove the pot from the heat and whisk the dals with a wire whisk or beater until the soup is creamy. Add the spinach or chard and cover. Return the pot to low heat and cook gently for another 5 or 10 minutes or until the greens are wilted.

  • Heat the remaining ghee or butter and oil mixture in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds and chilies, and stir for 1 minute or until the cumin seeds turn brown. Toss in the bay leaf, asafoetida and cayenne, and immediately add 3 tablespoons of water. Stir for 15 seconds and then immediately pour the fried spices into the dals and sprinkle in the garam masala. Let the seasonings soak in the hot dals for a few minutes, then season with salt and stir in the parsley or cilantro.

  • Serve hot in a bowl or over hot fresh cooked white basmati rice.

Makes 4 servings


Anonymous said...

I just finished reading up on asafoetida. Good for digestion. Just what I need. Thank you so much.

Lisa Turner said...

Ginger also helps digestion.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend from India who is hoping to reopen his restaurant soon. He said Turmeric is also good. I've been brewing ginger tea for ages.

He's also given me a lot of spices I would never be able to get otherwise.

Thanks again

Anonymous said...

as an aside We grow swiss chard and I gone out in the early winter kicked the snow off of it and picked it. Mind you it's for a lacto-vegetarian pasta dish, it certainly wouldn't hold up in a salad for sure :)

Anonymous said...

Love to hear your comments Lisa.

Re: the pet food, rat poison problem.

I wonder if it has an effect on the rice, and/or grain cereals/pasta here in Canada. I'm not bein overly worried. It just seems worth pursuing.

Lisa Turner said...

The pet food poison incident is not good, and I'm thankful that my cat was not effected by the recall. Sounds like the manufacturer dealt with a bad source.

I'm not sure what to say about it really, except to say I stay away from processed foods as much as possible and usually only purchase my grains and beans from a very reliable and knowledgeable source. I also rarely eat pasta, and only have eggs and sour dough bread for breakfast, or fresh grains and fruit, like oats or spelt, which I soak overnight.

A common problem with the grains used for processed foods, like cereals and granola bars for example, is that the grains used are often rancid. Also, the grains are cooked at such a high heat that most of the nutrients are killed.

I suggest you obtain a copy of Sally Fallon's Book, "Nourishing Traditions." You should also explore the Weston Price website - if you haven't already - which I have linked to on the sidebar here and do some google searches for Sally Fallon. They are not advocates of a vegetarian diet, and though I believe vegetarians can acquire all the necessary nutrients they need if they stick to whole foods, I think most of the ideas behind their research are quite sound and sensible. I'm not opposed to eating meat on moral grounds - I just personally find it rather repulsive :) Essentially, they advocate a tradition approach to eating. Ms. Fallon is also an outspoken opponent of raw milk bans.

Anonymous said...

Re: Raw milk bans it seem to me that hindi tradition doesn't like pasteurization but rather boiling milk. It's my understtanding that pasteurization tends to crosslink the protein molecules making it harder to digest. I'm not adverse to meat, it's just that I got gout 4 years ago and instead of going on the pill I changed my diet and got rid of all red meats. However, fish and chicken get tiring after awhile. I'm not adverse to a lacto-ovo vegetarianism. I have a sister who is sadly a skinny vegetarian, she has been an actress and model, and frankly, her form of vegetarianism is going to kill her.
I sent her to your site and she just went... well, what can you do, you pick your friends and bloggers,but family is family.

Lisa Turner said...

Sorry to hear about your digestive troubles and gout. I do hope that my blog will provide you with meal ideas in future. Sorry also to hear about your sister. When I first became a vegetarian, I was a not so smart one. I mainly lived on rice, pasta, vegetables and tofu and pizza. Now, I rarely eat pasta and hardly ever tofu. The ideas of Weston Price and Sally Fallon have certainly changed the way I approach food, though I do not strictly adhere to their guidelines.

I wonder what would get vegetarians like your sister interested in a site like mine? I do hope to include a wide variety of recipes here, and info, as I also hope to influence and thus change, the way the tofu eating crowd of vegetarians eat in addition to including a satisfying array of information and recipes for the converted :)

Anonymous said...

Hey: I wish I knew. I'm a guy and she's my sister. I have a hard enough time figuring out my loving wife, and two (at their age) weirdo girls. I think body image overrules science and good sense.

Doesn't matter you can't change everyone. You have a great site here and carry on.

Anonymous said...

I cured my gout with diet. I've since run 2 - 1/2 triathalons, and hoping to get out west to see darcey and do a 3rd. as long as the chemical poisoning doesn't hold me back too long. Anyway positive thoughts and another hurdle to cross.

BTW which link is Sandy Fallons?

Lisa Turner said...

I can't seem to find a site for Sally Fallon, though there is lots of info on the net about her, including articles that she has written. For example, see this article on the dangers of soy:

She is also quoted and mentioned on the Weston Price site:

I think a good many of our ailments are due to the food we consume and that's great that you cured your gout by reseaching and changing your diet.

Anonymous said...

This sounds so good! And I have everything for it ... except the fresh spinach, which our local grocery has been out of for days now. Been wanting it for an Italian recipe I'm eager to try. Now I'm even more impatient!