Toor Dal and Spinach (Toor Palak Dal)

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
oor Dal and Spinach

I used to make this simple but colorful and exotic dal curry every few weeks years ago when my repertoire of vegetarian recipes was far more limited than now. But I never minded. The creamy combination of warm, sweet and nutty toor dal cooked with tangy tomatoes, tart lemon juice and earthy spinach greens is as delicious as it is simple. Served over a bed of fresh hot cooked rice, or with some flatbreads, it is an easy and wonderful meal for any season.

I discovered a new craving for this tried and true dish recently, and decided to revisit it again. I found that it is just as delicious as ever. I guarantee that it will warm your spirits and earn the esteem of anyone you serve it to.

Toor dal — also known as toovar dal or split pigeon peas — has a mild sweet, earthy and nutty taste that goes very well with tart or tangy spicings, which is why it is a staple in south Indian kitchens. It also has a fuller texture when cooked than many other dals, making it perfect for sambars and dry-textured curries like this one. It is always easily found in any Indian or Asian grocer, and I always have a good supply on hand. You may substitute yellow split peas with lovely results as well.

Toor Dal and Spinach (Toor Palak Dal)Toor Dal and Spinach (Toor Palak Dal)
Recipe by
Adapted from Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking
Cuisine: Indian
Published on February 1, 2021

Zesty and tangy, this colorful dry-textured toor dal curry with chopped spinach is nourishing, delicious and simple to make

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  • 1 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas) or yellow split peas
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 8 or 12 thin wedges
  • 2 to 3 green chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, trimmed and chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • small handful of fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • Rinse the toor dal or split peas and soak in several inches of warm water for 3 to 5 hours. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a large saucepan or wok and cover with 1 1/2 cups of fresh water. Add 1 tablespoon of the ghee or oil and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the dal or split peas are tender but not falling apart. Drain and set aside.

  • Wipe the saucepan or wok clean and add the remaining ghee or oil. Heat over medium heat. When hot, toss in the cumin seeds and fry for 1 to 2 minutes or until the cumin seeds turn brown. Toss in the asafetida, stir once, then immediately add the tomato, chilies, ground coriander, turmeric and cayenne. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes.

  • Pour in the dal or split peas, lower the heat to medium-low, and add the lemon juice, salt and garam masala. Cook for a few minutes longer until the mixture is fairly dry. Serve immediately, garnished with the chopped parsley or cilantro.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Toor Palak Dal

Also recommended from Lisa's Kitchen:
Tarka Dal
Toor Dal Soup
Toor Dal Pumpkin Soup
Toor Dal and Green Bean Poriyal


janet @ the taste space said...

Oh yum, Lisa. I love toor dal as well. One can not have too many recipes for it, especially when paired with spinach. Can't wait to try this next.

Anonymous said...

This is my all time fav comfort food. There is something about the simplicity of this which is so comforting!