Toor Dal and Spinach Curry (Toor Dal Palak)

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Toor Dal Palak

Indian food may appear exotic to many North Americans with its extraordinary array of unfamiliar ingredients and spice blends, but exotic does not have to translate to being difficult or challenging once you have the ingredients on hand. In fact, Indian food is quite often the friend of the working family with little time to spare for preparation or cooking but with an appetite for nourishing and delicious meals.

Little could be faster or simpler than this tasty, filling and easily digestible toor dal and spinach curry, an elegantly flavored thick paste of protein-rich pulses and mineral-rich greens that makes a complete light meal when served on a bed of hot rice. Toor dal (or toovar dal — split pigeon peas) has a warm earthy taste and satisfyingly meaty texture that complements simple spice and vegetable additions, and is easily available in any Indian grocer along with the other ingredients in this dish. Nevertheless, split yellow peas may be substituted in a pinch, and a couple of crushed garlic cloves may be added at the same time as the ginger to replace the asafetida if you don't have it on hand.

Toor Dal and Spinach Curry (Toor Dal Palak)Toor Dal and Spinach Curry (Toor Dal Palak)
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on April 30, 2009

Dry curry of earthy toor dal and spinach with simple Indian spices and lemon juice — a simple, delicious and protein rich meal

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  • 2/3 cup dried toor dal
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 lb (450 g) fresh spinach, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ghee, butter or oil
  • 3 dried whole red chilies
  • 1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • Thoroughly rinse the toor dal by scrubbing the pulses under running water. Place in a medium saucepan or wok and soak for 2 to 3 hours in 2 cups of water. Add the turmeric and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, partially covered, until the dal is tender — about 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the spinach, replace the lid to partially covered, and continue to cook until the spinach is cooked and most of the liquid is gone. Turn off the heat and let the dal and spinach sit.

  • Heat the ghee, butter or oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Toss in the chilies and ginger and fry, stirring frequently, until the ginger just begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garam masala, then add the asafoetida, stir once, and pour the seasonings into the dal and spinach. Stir in the lemon juice and salt.

  • Serve hot or warm on a bed of white rice.

Makes 2 main servings or 4 side servings

Toor Dal Palak

Also recommended from Lisa's Kitchen:
Toor Dal Pumpkin Soup
Roasted Toor Dal and Coconut Chutney
Tarka Dal


Ramya Vijaykumar said...

Lisa this dish is just amazing with all the vibrant color and the hidden proteins and flavours the best lunch one could have...

Indhu said...

this is one of my favourite comfort foods. the picture makes me want to dig in :)

Cynthia said...

Umm, soooo good! I am making this on Saturday :)

ARUNA said...

this dish is so yummy.....nice click!!

eatme_delicious said...

I wish you could cook me dinner every night! This looks yummy.

Soma said...

Lisa I really like the way you made it thick & chunky instead of the regular runny kinda dal! I make yellow moong dal & gourd.. & also my mom would make the yellow mung with spinach...dry fry like this. never tried it with toor dal. Brings back memory from home:-)

TBC said...

I agree with what you say about Indian food. Most dishes, or at least the ones I make, take not more than 20-30 minutes.

This dal-palak is something I make very often.:)

Juliana said...

Wow, love the combination of flavors...sounds fantastic! And very healthy.

Oliver said...

Lovely recipe, yumm... thanks!

Chutneytales said...

Excellent picture.I love dal n greens..Yummy recipe!

Trupti said...

I love this dal.. looks delicious

Brett said...

I just cooked this - it was tasty and simple, on a bed of rice, accompanied by a Gujerati-style carrot salad. Thanks a lot for the recipe.

Anonymous said...

Did you really mean one pound of spinach? If you use 1 lb it becomes spinach with a few visible dal bits. Looks nothing like the picture.

Lisa Turner said...

Yes, Anon, I did mean 1 pound of spinach. Perhaps you did not cook it long enough? It should wilt, cook until most of the liquid is gone and then it won't overwhelm the dal.

Anonymous said...

Terrific recipe! I served it with lightly fried flour tortillas. Of course I customized by using Organic froz spinich from Whole foods, added fresh garlic and 1/2 tsp of coriander powder and tamirind pulp w/a pinch of sugar instead of lemon juice. Loved the recipe and will make it at least once a month! Thanks!

Unknown said...

it so yummy yaar