Learn how to make Lasooni Dal Palak ~ Garlic flavoured lentil and spinach soup
As my mother complained about hot weather in India, unusual for this time of the year, I just wished I was at home in India as I gazed at grey skies wearing my winter jacket, snow boots and my hands tucked inside my jacket pocket to keep it warm! Spring in India is much hotter than the summers here in UK and the signals how brutal the summers are going to be. With air conditioning turned on during spring season, especially in the night, I can just imagine the kind of summer India is going to welcome in couple of weeks. I hate hot weather and the only thing that made the heat bearable was the arrival of summer bounty, especially mangoes. But given a choice, I will gladly take the sweaty and hot sunny days over the gloomy cold weather. I thought I was immune to it, and to be frank, I didn’t even care for the weather as I did enjoy the cold winters especially coming from a hot tropical country where the sun shines for 365 days a year! But I guess this is what happens to someone who hasn’t seen the face of sun god for weeks!
This winter by far been worse one during my 10 years of living in the UK. It feels like a big joke when the leader of first world says climate change is a fake news when we are still in the clutches of ruthless winter god even after mid-March! With terrible mood swings and low energy, I can’t wait to get enough of Vitamin D in summer. But if days continue to be this cold and gloomy, we might as well skip spring entirely and welcome summer! ~sigh~ Maybe it’s time to plan a trip to some sunny part of the world, or just cook something that brings the colours of summer in a bowl… Since the first one seems like out of reach as hubby is buried under workload, the latter is the only choice as of now…
I am all for comfort food, especially when it feels like it's been winter forever! When the sun refuses to break through the grey clouds, you got to create your own sunshine in a bowl! I can't tell you when will the sun smile on us, but I can promise you that this bowl of Lassoni Dal Palak is going be one hearty and healthy bowl of goodness that will put a smile on everyone's face when you all sit down for a meal.
No well-balanced Indian meal is complete without protein rich dal or lentil dish. Simple tadka dal features most during busy weekdays where a cooked dal is tempered with spices, but combining vegetables with lentils/beans can make any dish a powerhouse of nutrition. Sambar (vegetable and lentil stew), Kootu (thick curry of vegetables with lentils), Parappu Usli (crumbled steamed lentil balls and vegetable stir fry), Kosambari (raw veggie and lentil salad) etc are some of the ways I like to combine vegetables with lentils/beans and simple dals or lentil soups like Bottle gourd dal, palak dal, methi dal are always a hit with my family when served with hot phulka/roti or rice with a dollop of ghee.
This recipe of Lasooni Dal Palak or garlicy lentil soup with spinach is one of the best tasting dal recipes ever. The spices used are minimal, and the kick of spicy notes comes from the ginger and green chillies. We like it little thick, soup like consistency, but you can thin it down to suit your taste. My 6 year old loves garlic and spinach both raw and cooked, and the golden brown slices of fried garlic in this dish is something he absolutely loves. This recipe is a best way to include greens if you have a picky eater who is not very fond of anything that looks healthy! You can serve it hot with hot phulka/roti or rice with a dollop of ghee. Or simply eat it on its own as a thick, creamy soup. Trust me, there is not many dishes that can compete with this comforting bowl of nutrition packed Lassoni Dal Palak when it comes to taste, aroma and flavour! Personally, it’s a next best thing to my mother’s warm hug. :)
Lasooni Dal Palak (Garlic flavoured spinach and lentil soup)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 25-30 mins
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Low to Medium
Serves: 4-6 People
Shelf Life: Best served fresh, but can be refrigerated for upto 2 days
Serving Suggestion: Serve it hot with roti or with rice
1 cup Toor Dal/Split Pigeon Peas
2 tightly packed cups Spinach, washed and chopped
1 medium Onion or 4-5 Shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 medium Tomatoes, finely chopped
1 – 1½ inch Ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
1-2 Green Chillies, slit (Adjust as per taste)
1-2 tsp Jaggery (Optional, but recommended. Adjust as per taste)
¼ cup Fresh Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
½ Lime, extract the juice (Adjust as per taste)
Salt to taste
1 tsp Haldi/Turmeric Powder
½ tsp Red Chilli Powder
6-7 large cloves of Garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp Raai/Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1-2 Dry Red Chilli, cut into two pieces
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida
2 sprigs of Curry Leaves
2 tbsp Ghee or Oil
- Wash the toor dal 4-5 times or until the water turns clear. Add about 4-5 cups of water and pressure cook on medium flame for 3-4 whistles, about 15 minutes. Let the pressure release completely before opening the lid.
- While the dal is getting cooked, peel and slice the large garlic cloves into thin slices. Peel and grate or finely chop the ginger. Slice green chillies and keep them aside until needed.
- Peel and thinly slice the onions or shallots. Wash and chop the tomatoes into small pieces. Finely chop the coriander leaves and keep them aside.
- Wash the spinach leaves. Stack 6-8 leaves and roll them into tight cigars. Chop them into thin pieces with a help of a sharp knife. Keep them aside until needed.
Proceed to cook:
- Heat 1 tbsp oil or ghee in a pan on medium flame. Once hot, add thinly sliced garlic and fry them until they turn golden brown. Remove the fried garlic and keep it aside.
- Add 1 tbsp oil or ghee to the same pan and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dry red chillies. Fry them until the mustard seeds start to pop and splutter, about 30 seconds. Next add hing and curry leaves and fry them for couple of seconds.
- Next add finely chopped ginger and slit green chillies and fry them for about half a minute. Add turmeric powder and red chilli powder and mix them well before adding sliced onions.
- Sauté the onions until it turns golden brown on the edges, about 3 minutes, on medium flame.
- Add chopped tomatoes, jaggery and about ½ tsp of salt. Mix them well and sauté until the tomatoes turn pulpy and releases their juice, about 4-5 minutes.
- Next add chopped spinach and saute for 2-3 minutes. Mash the cooked toor dal and add it to pan. Add ¾ th of fried garlic slices, salt to taste and mix them well.
- If you find the dal too thick, add about ½-1 cup of water to get the required consistency. Increase the heat to medium to high and bring it to boil.
- Adjust the seasoning and reduce the heat to low. Let the dal simmer for 4-5 minutes.
- Finally add finely chopped coriander leaves and lime juice and turn off the heat. Cover and let it rest for 10-15 minutes for the flavours to blend well.
- Serve this delicious and hearty Lassoni Dal Palak garnished with remaining fried garlic slices with roti, naan or with rice. You can serve it on its own as a hearty soup as well. Enjoy!
- You can skip the spinach or replace it with other greens like fenugreek leaves, spring greens, amaranth etc.
- You can use just a toor dal/split pigeon peas or a combination of lentils like moong dal, massor (red lentils) dal etc.
- I personally favour using ghee for tempering the spices, but you can replace it with oil to suit vegan diet.
- We like our Lassoni Dal Palak to be bit thick with soup like consistency. You can thin it down by adjusting the amount of water to suit your taste.
- You can serve it hot with some hot phulka or roties or simply serve it with some rice topped with dollop of ghee. I like to eat it on its own as like a bowl of soup.