Chana Dal with Spinach

This recipe starts with dal cooked to tender (al dente.) Cooking time for dal varies according to the variety and method used. See my post for more information.

Yield: 4 servings

Chana Dal with Spinach

A white bowl of chana dal with spinach, rice, and yogurt.

Savor the spicy flavors of this nutritious Indian dish... This is quick and simple enough for a weeknight supper!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 1 1/2 cups chana dal
  • water to cover
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 " ginger, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seed
  • 1-2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 or 2 Fresno chiles, stems and seeds removed, and minced or small dried red chiles (to taste)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2-3 cups vegetable, or chicken broth
  • 5 ounces fresh baby spinach, rinsed and drained well
  • Plain Greek yogurt (optional)
  • Cilantro - garnish


  1. Take a minute to inspect the dal and rinse them. Place them in a large pot, and cover with water to about 2 or 3 inches above the dal. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to keep a simmer.
  2. Keep an eye on the water as they will absorb quite a bit. When the dal is tender but not soft, drain, rinse, and set aside.
  3. Add coarsely chopped ginger, garlic, and onion to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until the mixture is pureed.
  4. In a spice grinder (or mortar and pestle), grind coriander, cumin, and fenugreek.
  5. In a heavy dutch oven, heat the oil on high. Add black mustard seeds. Stir with a wooden spoon until the seeds begin to sizzle and pop.
  6. Add pureed ginger, garlic, and onion. Stir until mixture is very fragrant - about 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful to not burn it. Lower heat if necessary.
  7. Add ground spices, Fresno chile (cayenne or dried chile), garam masala, and turmeric. Stir until combined, and you smell the sweetness of the spices cooking - another couple of minutes.
  8. Add cooked dal and broth to the pot. Lower heat to a simmer, and cover. Cook 15-20 minutes to allow flavors to marry.
  9. Add the fresh spinach and more broth if desired. Stir to combine. Cover the pot to wilt the spinach
  10. Check for seasoning.
  11. Serve Chana Dal with Spinach over steamed basmati rice. Garnish with plain Greek yogurt (not vegan! and optional) and chopped cilantro.


You can use this basic recipe for other varieties of dal. Adjust the cooking time to achieve tender but not soft. You want to cook the dal to al dente prior to starting the recipe!

*I like fresh Fresno chiles, but they're not always available. 4 or 5 small dried red chiles or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cayenne make good substitutions. Remove dried chiles prior to serving.

We like dal thick like stew, but feel free to use more broth if you like it more like a soup.

Obviously, you will need to omit the Greek yogurt for a vegan diet!

This recipe freezes and reheats well. The dal may become dry when reheated. Add more broth if necessary.

Macronutrients (approximation from 196 calories; 16 g protein; 19 g carbohydrates; 7 g fat. Macros include 1/4 cup Greek yogurt per serving, but does NOT include rice.

Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 196Total Fat: 7gCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 16g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest