Mamta's Kitchen

Mung Dal And Spinach (Dal Palak)

Moong Dal Aur Palak (Dal Palak)

Reeta Kumar

Lentils can be cooked in many combinations. This particular dal combines the flavour of moong dal with the fresh flavour of spinach leaves. It happens to be one of our family favourite. In my opinion, it tastes best with mung dal with skin (moong dal chilka), but can be made with skinless (dhuli) moong dal too. Experiment with other dals like Split Urad (black gram dal chilka), chana dal, Arhar/Tuvar Dal and other dals you like. This dish is eaten rather runny, with custard like consistency. You can add 1 tbs. dry methi leaves (kasoori methi) along with spinach leaves for a more intense flavour. Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup moong dal with skin

  • 2 1/2 cups water.

  • 1 bunch fresh spinach leaves, washed and chopped finely.

  • 1 1/2 inch root ginger, peeled and chopped

  • 1 tbs. coarsely chopped ginger

  • Salt to taste (1-1 1/2 tsp.)

  • 1/2tsp. turmeric powder

  • For basic tarka (for other types of tarka, see notes below):

  • 2-3 tbs. ghee or sunflower or olive oil. Ghee tastes better but oil is healthier.

  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds

  • A large pinch of asafoetida or hing powder

  • 2-3 whole red chillies broken up

  • 1/2 tsp. chilli powder

Instructions

  1. Wash dal well.

  2. Drain the water off.

  3. Cooking in a pressure cooker (picture 2-5)

  4. Place the dal, chopped spinach leaves, ginger, water, salt and turmeric in the pressure cooker and cook under pressure for 3-4 minutes or 1-2 whistles. Moong dal does not take long to cook.

  5. Cooking in a slow cooker (last eight pictures)

  6. Like most dals and beans (except kidney beans), this dal also cooks really well in a slow-cooker. Place all ingredients in the slow-cooker and switch on. Leave for 6-8 hours, until soft.

  7. Dals, when ready, should be soft but not mashed.

  8. Place in a serving bowl.

  9. Partly blend cooked dal with a hand blender, making sure not make it a smooth paste. texture of dal and spinach should remain.

  10. Cooking in a pan

  11. Place the dal, chopped spinach leaves, ginger, water, salt, turmeric powder and water, in a heavy bottomed pan and bring to boil.

  12. Simmer briskly until dal is tender. If the dal begins to look too thick and dry, you may need to add more water during the cooking process. Remember, spinach leaves also release water during cooking. So don't add too much to start with.

  13. Tarka or tempering (shown in last three pictures):

  14. Heat ghee or oil in a tarka ladle (can be bought from an Indian store) or a small pan.

  15. Add cumin seeds and asafoetida powder and let the seeds start to splutter.

  16. Add whole chillies and chillies powder, stir with a small spoon quickly, add to the cooked dal and cover with a lid. This will infuse the flavours into the dal and stop the dal from splashing out during tempering. You have to be quick with tarka because powdered chillies burn very fast once added to hot oil.

  17. Other variations of tarkas or tempering:

  18. After spluttering the cumin seeds, add a little grated garlic to the hot oil, fry until beginning to turn golden brown. Add chillies and chilli powder. Now add to the dal.

  19. After spluttering the cumin add one chopped onion, 1 tsp. garlic, and fry until browned. Add 2 chopped tomatoes, 1 tsp. Curry powder orSambar Powder. Fry a little longer and add to the dal.

  20. Serve with Chapatties.

  21. Also see Dal Selection.

Notes

  • Overcooked or leftover dal can be added to roti or chapatti flour when making a dough. This makes delicious roti and paratha.

  • The amount of dal required per person depends on whether you are serving the dal with roti or with rice. Rice requires more dal.

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