Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Paalak Masoor Dal

Was having another of those "I don't want to eat food made by me" days. Every now and then I'll go through this phase when I just get bored of tasting "my own haath ka khaana"! And on such days, the one thing that brings comfort is memories of food cooked by amma. Even better, making whatever I am craving, following her recipe to the T.

It is funny what we desire at times. One would think chaats and other snack items or sweets would trump simple day to day food when it comes to cravings! But it is my mom's paalak dal, khichdi, aaloo curry, kadhi, tomato rice and even lemon rasam - typical everyday food - that I miss the most!

Well, most recently I had a hankering for her paalak masoor dal. This is one of her "hit" items! Now, masoor dal (split red lentil), or pink dal as I used to call it,  is not very common among south Indians (which is what I am) and Mumbaikars (where my entire clan hails from)! This I came to know much later (after I got married, to be precise, for that is when I stopped identifying dals by their colors - sure was surprised to know that there were so many different yellow dals!). Till then I never understood what was so special about this dal that had people wondering how my mother's paalak dal got that unique taste. That was because she was using masoor dal instead of the standard moong dal that most people we knew were using. Well my mother's culinary repertoire includes dishes from all over the country thanks to my dad's job which took him to a lot of different places. And she tends to capture the local flavors pretty well!

So, for this dal, I stick to whatever she uses - thankfully I have made this enough times to no longer require a phone call to ask for the recipe! Though I do have friends calling me for the recipe once they have tasted it at my place ;)

Preparation & Cooking: 15 minutes          Serves: 2-3

Masoor Dal (Split Red Lentil) - 1 cup
Spinach - 1 cup, chopped fine
Mustard Seeds - 1 teaspoon
Cumin Seeds (Jeera) - 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida (Hing) Powder - a pinch
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Ginger -  1 teaspoon, minced
Green Chillies - 2, chopped fine
Tomato - 1 small, diced
Turmeric (Haldi) Powder - ½ teaspoon
Coriander (Dhania) Powder  - 1 teaspoon
Cumin (Jeera) Powder - 1 teaspoon
Salt - to taste
Cilantro - chopped, for garnish
Butter - 1 tablespoon (optional)
Oil - 2 tablespoons

  1. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida powder. When the seeds crackle, add the onions, green chillies and ginger.
  2. Once the onions turn translucent, add the tomatoes, turmeric powder, cumin powder and coriander powder. Saute for a couple of minutes.

  3. Now add in the dal (make sure it is rinsed thoroughly), the chopped spinach and salt to taste. Give it a good stir.

  4. Add enough water to cover the dal, close the pressure cooker and cook the dal for 2-3 whistles. Once the steam is all let out, open the cooker and add a tablespoon of butter and garnish with chopped cilantro.

  5. Steaming hot palak masoor ki dal is ready. Teams perfectly with jeera fried rice!

    Handy Tip: You could use ghee instead of oil for this recipe but I prefer oil as that is what my mom uses.
    On the other hand, the extremely health conscious may omit the butter, but trust me, the creamy taste when butter is added is just too good to be missed!

Sending this across to
Zesty South Indian Kitchen's  Favorite Recipes: Lentil, Legume, Beans Recipes
Gayatri's Cook Spot's Walk Through Memory Lane - January
and New "U" 2013 @ Zesty Palette.


  1. Delicious dal with palak, good for chapathi.

    1. I am your newest follower in facebook and google connect, please follow me back.

    2. Thank you Swathi, yes this does team up well with chapathi as well as rice. Have already linked it to your event and am following you :)

  2. Palatable and nutritive dish. Tried it last night and came out really well. Kids enjoyed it too :)

  3. All time favorite is spinach and dal. Looks yummy.

    Event: Sweet Luv - 2013

    1. Thank you Vardhini. Plan to send something to you event...


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