Yellow mung dal/lentils are roasted till aromatic and then cooked with spinach and tempered with spices. A comfort food which brings on warm fuzzy feelings.
Like most of the Indian recipes, this is very adaptable and are cooked in different ways, with different lentils and different spices depending on the region where it is cooked and definitely on the mood of the chef! I have different kinds of Palak Dal that I make at home. This one here is my favorite, not just because it tides in nostalgia, but also because of the roasted mung dal that is used here. It is very popular to lightly dry roast the yellow mung dal before cooking in West Bengal. Roasting the lentils, brings out the beautiful aroma that will hang around your home for a long time.
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Dal Palak/Lentils with Spinach
- 1 bunch spinach, washed thoroughly and roughly torn
- 1 medium tomato, grated (optional)
- 3/4 cup yellow mung (or moong) dal
- 1.5 teaspoon oil/ghee/butter
- 1.5 teaspoons grated ginger/ginger paste
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
- 2 fresh green chili pepper
- a pinch of hing/asafoetida
- 4 cups water (may be a little bit more if needed)
- fresh lemon
In a dry thick bottomed skillet, lightly roast the mung dal/lentils till they are fragrant and golden. Cool them and wash them.
In a large pot over medium-high heat combine the dal and water. Bring to a boil, then add the turmeric and salt, ginger, 1 green chili, slit or broken. Reduce the heat, and simmer till the lentils are about half done.
Add the spinach and simmer until the lentils are soft, about 1 hour /more or less (or you may pressure cook the dal/lentil). I add the spinach later during cooking so they are not overccoked and still maintains the dark green color. The lentils should not dry up while cooking, they have to have the soupy consistency. If you need more water, do add more. Remove from heat when the lentils are cooked and soft but not mushed up.
In another pan, heat the oil/ghee/butter and cumin and fry until the cumin sizzles. Add the green chili and asafoetida/hing if you’re using it and fry for about half a minute.
Add the red chili powder and the tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are mushy. Add the cooked lentils, sugar and spinach to this pan, cover and allow to cook/simmer for another ten minutes. Taste, and season with more salt if needed.
Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on the top before serving. Serve hot with rice or roti.