Recipe: Very Simple Dal Palak

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

We like to think of this as our Stone Soup recipe. With a few basic ingredients and handful of lentils, we can make enough to feed and satisfy an entire crowd. While we can’t claim that this is the most authentic dal you’ll ever eat, we can promise a darn tasty meal! Take a look…

Think of this recipe as a guideline. You can add more or less of any of the vegetables depending on what you have available and then adjust the spices as needed. We like our dal thick enough to scoop up with bread, but add another cup or so of liquid if you’d prefer more of a soup.

This recipe also freezes very well. We often make a double or even triple batch and freeze most of it in individual containers for quick weeknight meals.

Dal Palak
Makes about 8 cups

1 large onion, diced
2 packages (about 16 ounces) white button or baby bella mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 medium-sized red or white potatoes, cubed
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons coriander
1 Tablespoon garam masala
2 teaspoons red chili powder
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
10 ounce bunch of spinach (or more if desired!), cleaned and cut into ribbons
1 cup red lentils
3 cups of water or broth
1-2 Tablespoons salt
3-4 scallions, chopped

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, the mushrooms, and one teaspoon of salt, and cook until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms show spots of golden brown. Add the potatoes and another teaspoon of salt, and cook until the edges are just starting to turn translucent.

Clear a space in the middle of the pan and add the ginger, garlic, spices, and one more teaspoon of salt. Cook until the garlic is fragrant (30 seconds), and then stir the spices into the mix. Add the diced tomatoes in their juices, the spinach, and the lentils. Stir to combine everything and then top with three cups of water or broth.

Turn the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and let the soup simmer for about 45 minutes until the lentils and potatoes are cooked through. Taste the soup to adjust the seasonings and salt. Stir in half of the chopped scallions, reserving the rest to use as garnish.

Serve dal along with rice, naan, or chapatis.

Related: Cooking by Feel: Indian Flavors and Ingredients

(Image: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)