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  • Palak Dal
    Yellow Dal with Spinach

    YIELD: 12 CUPS / 2.8 L
    TOOLS: You’ll need a heavy-bottomed, 6-quart / 6-L stockpot or Dutch oven with a lid and an 8-inch / 20-cm sauté pan.
    NOTE: If you love tomatoes, add 1 diced tomato with the spices in Step 5. This is a very basic recipe for dal; really, you can substitute any fast-cooking bean or lentil for the duhli moong dal, including masoor dal (split and skinned red lentils).

    This is one of the simplest dals in Punjabi cuisine and is eaten almost weekly (sometimes daily) in our households. It cooks up fast and is easy to digest. It’s especially delicious topped with fresh, spiced onions; sliced fresh green chiles; and a dollop of achaar (Indian pickle). Here, I include spinach, which is how it’s typically made in Indian restaurants. Feel free to make it without the greens, like most households do.

    • 3 cups /640 g duhli moong dal (dried, split, and skinned green dal), picked over and washed (they look yellow)
    • 9 cups /2.1 L water
    • 3 tablespoons /45 mL ghee or vegetable oil
    • ½ teaspoon hing (asafetida)
    • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 1 medium white or red onion, finely diced
    • 2–3 teaspoons plus 1 pinch salt, divided
    • 1½-inch / 4-cm piece ginger, peeled and minced or grated
    • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
    • 2–3 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and finely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon Garam Masala
    • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
    • 1–2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • 6 ounces /170 g fresh spinach, roughly chopped
    • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
    • Brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan, for serving
    1. Combine the duhli moong dal and water in a heavy-bottomed, 6-quart / 6-L stockpot or Dutch oven over medium–high heat and bring to a boil.
    2. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. I cook mine uncovered and keep an eye on it to make sure it does not overflow. At first, you’ll see a white film form over the duhli moong dal. Just skim it off and discard, and continue to boil until the dal is soft. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside to cool slightly while you prep the remaining ingredients. This will end up a little thick, but will loosen up after the following steps. If you want to thin it out a bit, just add a little more water until it’s at the preferred consistency.
    3. In an 8-inch / 20-cm sauté pan over medium–high heat, warm the ghee. Add the hing, cumin seeds, and turmeric and cook for 40 seconds, until the cumin seeds sizzle and turn reddish-brown.
    4. Add the onion and the pinch of salt to the sauté pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion is slightly browned. Add the ginger, garlic, and fresh chiles and cook for 2 minutes.
    5. Add the Garam Masala, coriander, and red chile powder to the sauté pan and cook, stirring well, for 20 seconds or so. Be careful not to burn the spices. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute, until just wilted. Remove from the heat and transfer the contents of the sauté pan to the stockpot containing the duhli moong dal.
    6. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and the cilantro to the stockpot and stir well.
    7. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve ladled over the brown or white basmati rice or with the Roti or Naan. This is delicious as a soup as well.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

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