Photo courtesy of Kami Stafford

Palak Dahl
Palak is Hindi or Sanskrit for spinach. Dahl is Hindi or Sanskrit for beans or lentils. Thus, this is a recipe for a bean soup with spinach.

I obtained this recipe from Indu, an Indian man I knew years ago. This was one of his family recipes. It is one I have enjoyed for many years. He suggested serving it with homemade bread. I serve it with either potato bread. No-kneed English Muffin Bread or Italian bread, especially when made with whole grain flour.
  • 2 cups split lentils or mung beans
  • 10 oz chopped frozen spinach (thawed), or equivalent amount of fresh, chopped spinach.
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp (or a pinch)asafoetida powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil or ghee
Notes & Discussion
  • Asafoetida powder for cooking purposes is sold in Indian grocery stores, or online. It contains Asafoetida as well as flour and/or food starch and/or other fillers, depending on brand. Do not use herbal Asafoetida, as it is more pure, and will be overwhelming.
  • Be aware that Asafoetida has a very strong, unpleasant odor. This is normal. I suggest storing the self-sealing bottle inside two plastic bags, independently sealed.
  • I have tried making this without the Asafoetida and it does not come out tasting right.
  • Split lentils or split mung beans are found in Indian grocery stores, or online.
  • If you are not using split beans, increase the cooking time to about 90 minutes, until the beans are very soft and falling apart.
  • You may use any color of lentils. Although yellow lentils are recommended, I have successfully used white, green, red, and orange lentils.
  • Red lentils urad dahl are the most flavorful, and make this an extremely colorful dish!!
  • Ghee is a highly-clarified butter used in Indian cooking. It is also available from Indian and organic food stores. It can be made at home by melting the butter, skimming off the white impurities, cooking for 45 minutes, cooling, straining, and placing in a jar.
  • Add mung beans or lentils to water.
  • Add salt and spices.
  • Finely chop onions.
  • Press or finely chop garlic.
  • Cook for 30 minutes if using split beans or lentils, or 90 minutes if using whole beans or lentils.
  • When beans are nearly done, put ghee or vegetable oil in skillet. Add finely-chopped onions and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until the onions are slightly brown.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Using a wire whisk, beat the beans until smooth and "soupy". (Trust me, this works!)
  • Turn heat to low under beans.
  • Add tumeric, cumin, and asafoetida.
  • Add the onion/garlic mixture from skillet. Stir thoroughly.
  • Add spinach.
  • Continue stirring over low heat until simmering.
Serve hot, with home made bread.
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Copyright 2010 by Elizabeth Harper
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