Simple Spinach masoor dal

Masoor dal is very rarely used in my kitchen. Infact, I don’t ever remember my mom buying or using it. I guess it was not a very tamilian dal. The first time I saw it was after coming to the US, being sold in the bulk bins in Indian stores. I was surprised to see it sold in the local grocery stores too, as pink lentils. Everytime I passed by the bulk bin in our Indian store, something about the color of the Masoor dal beckoned me. Its this saffrony pink color, that is almost enchanting. To be exact, its a light sendhooram color – I loved the color. Whenever I talk about colors and say I love that color, I remember my chithi(aunt). Her response would always be: ‘Andha color la oru saree vanganum’ – ‘I should get a saree in that color’.

Anyway, I finally managed to pick up some masoor dal during my last visit to the Indian store.I didn’t think much about a recipe for putting it to use, I figured any kind of dal should taste good with spinach, and tried out a simple spinach dal, since I had some baby spinach on hand.


1 1/2 cups of whole masoor dal

1 1/2 cups of baby spinach leaves

1 onion chopped

2 cloves garlic sliced

2 tomatoes chopped

1 tsp of cumin seeds

4 green chillies slit

2 tsp canola oil

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp mustard

1 tsp urad dal

1 tsp channa dal

a pinch of asafoetida

curry leaves

1 tsp of lemon juice(optional)

salt to taste


Pick through and wash the masoor dal. Place it in a pan and cover with enough water. Add a few drops of oil, 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds, the sliced garlic and the slit green chillies. Cook until the dal is soft. Since it was my first time using the dal, and I wasn’t sure of how many whistles to cook it in the pressure cooker, I used an open pan. It actually, cooks very fast, similar to paasi paruppu(split moong dal). And, its good that I didnt pressure cook it, or it would have turned to mush.

In a seperate skillet over medium high heat, add the oil. When it starts to ripple, add the mustard seeds. When it splutters, add the urad dal and channa dal. When the dals brown, add the remaining 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds and the pinch of asafoetida. Now add the chopped onion. Cook until the onion turns a golden brown. Add the tomatoes, salt and turmeric powder. Cook until the tomatoes turn soft and mushy. Add the whole baby spinach leaves and toss until the spinach wilts. Now transfer the contents of the skillet to the dal pan. Bring it to a boil. Check for seasonings. Add the lemon juice if using. Enjoy with rice or chapatis.

Verdict: I enjoyed the dal with chapatis for dinner and with rice the next day for lunch. I was slightly disappointed with the color of the dal turning yellow upon cooking. I would have loved for it to retain the lovely pink color. I liked a little undertone of citrus from the addition of the lemon juice. The dal was mild and creamy. Masoor dal has entered my kitchen, and its going to stay!

This delicious dal is my entry to the ‘Delicious Dals’ from India event hosted by VeggiePlatter.

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  1. Thanks for sending over this delicious dal.
    Even my mother never cooked with masoor dal and I don’t think it is popular in South. As you mentioned the beautiful salmon hue is lost after cooking. Since it cooks in around 20 minutes with out a pressure cooker, I reserve this for quick cooking and this can be substituted for toordal in all kinds of dal – sambhars.

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