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Dal Palak - A Split, Skinned Pigeon Pea and Spinach Recipe
Dal Palak is a universally loved dish combining dal and palak into one amazingly flavored dal dish. This dish is high on nutritional value - the dal itself is high in proteins and the palak is rich in iron, vitamins and minerals. Incidentally, the dal I use is toor, also known both as arhar, and as pigeon peas (which are split and skinned), while the palak is basically spinach.
I have boiled the dal with the palak, as the palak infuses its flavors wonderfully in the dal this way. I gave a mustard and cumin seeds (and asafoetida) tadka which gives a beautiful base to the dal while its cooked. I have added chopped garlic and ginger which further enhances the taste of the dal (the garlic tadka always works great with toor dal). The ghee is added, which, again, works very well with the toor dal, and it really enriches the taste of this dal.
While you can cook the dal on its own in the same way (without the palak) as described in the recipe below, with the same tadka (which is a staple Western Indian dal preparation), cooked this way is, of course, a lovely variation. You could replace the palak leaves with methi leaves and this has its own taste infusing the flavor of the methi leaves into the dal - this dal preparation is called Dal Methi. There's another variation in Maharashtra where arbi leaves (colocassia leaves), or palak is cooked with a little chana dal, gram flour and ground nuts, resulting in a dish called Patal Bhaji.
So, lets get back to our Dal Palak and the recipe next.
- 2 cups toor dal (arhar dal) (pigeon peas, split and skinned)
- 200 gms palak (spinach)
- 2 medium size onions
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 tsp ginger (chopped finely)
- 7 to 8 garlic cloves (chooped finely)
- 2 green chillies (longitudinally cut)
- 1 red chilli
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder
- 3 or 4 pinches of asafoetida
- 1/2 tsp mustard and cumin seeds
- Salt (according to taste)
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 4 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp coriander leaves (chopped)
- 1 tbsp pure ghee (clarified butter)
1. Wash the palak leaves and cut them finely.
2. Boil the toor dal with the chopped palak leaves, a little salt, turmeric powder and a pinch of asafoetida in a presser cooker for 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Cut the onions and tomatoes finely.
Instructions for cooking
1. Heat oil in a pan on a slow medium to flame and add mustard and cumin seeds, and when they splutter, add the asafoetida and the ginger and garlic. Stir fry till they turn to a golden color.
2. Now, add your red and green chillies, and onions and stir fry till the onions changes its color to golden, then add tomatoes, turmeric and chilli powder. On a slow flame, cook the tomatoes.
3. When the tomatoes are done, add the boiled dal and palak into the pan. Now, add sugar and stir properly. Let it boil for 6 to 8 minutes and switch the flame off.
4. Add the ghee over your dal.
5. Garnish with coriander leaves.
6. Your delicious Dal Palak is ready.
I've always loved this dal and its usually made at home. I'm a palak fan, so, since its combined with dal so succinctly, I absolutely adore this dish and I usually have it with rotis or parathas or any type of rice. Sometimes, I add some ground nuts while cooking, but I've left that out for this preparation. Have it this way, and the thick spinach flavored dal will win you over.
So, do give this a try and enjoy.