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Jenny’s Dal Saag (Split Pea & Spinach Dal)

Jenny Chandler


Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 mins (+ 1 hour soaking time)

Cook time: 1 hour 15 mins


250g split yellow peas

½ tsp turmeric

about 1 litre water

2 tbsp oil

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

1 onion, finely diced

3cm piece of ginger, finely diced

2 dried red chillis, chopped (or any fresh or dried, green or red, depending on your preference for heat)

2 cloves garlic

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp garam masala

200g chopped tinned tomatoes (or 4 skinned and chopped ripe tomatoes, if in season)

200g fresh spinach, washed and roughly chopped (if using baby spinach, just leave it whole)

handful fresh coriander, chopped (optional, to garnish)

pinch of amchur - dried sour mango (optional, to garnish)

Veg Portions / Serving: 2


Kitchen Ninja

This recipe was developed by Jenny Chandler for the British Dal Festival, back for a third year from 21 to 31 March 2020. It can be served as part of an Indian spread or makes a comforting supper just served with some flatbread or rice. Soaking the peas for a few hours will speed up the cooking but they do only take about 45 minutes to cook from scratch.


Rinse the split peas in a sieve, place in a large saucepan with the turmeric and cover with about 1 litre of cold water.

Bring the pan up to the boil and then cover and simmer for about 30 minutes to 1 hour until the peas are quite soft and creamy. You may need to add more water as the peas cook; I like my dal to have quite a thick texture and some discernible peas whilst others prefer a soupier creamy finish.

Whilst the peas are cooking you can fry up the spiced tomato mixture in a small frying pan.

Heat up the oil and fry off the whole cumin seeds until fragrant.

Add the onion, chilli and ginger and cook for about 10 minutes until the onion begins to soften.

Turn up the heat and stir in the garlic, coriander and garam masala, cooking just until you are enveloped in all the wonderful smells. Add the tomatoes and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Once the split peas are soft and cooked through you can add the tomato mixture, along with a pinch of salt, and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.

Throw in the spinach at the last moment, it barely requires any cooking at all, just a couple of minutes in the hot dal will wilt it beautifully. Kale or Swiss chard are also great options and take about 5 minutes to cook in the dal over a medium heat.

You could add chopped fresh coriander or a pinch of amchur powder (dried sour mango) just before serving.

Serve hot with plain rice or flat bread.

Kids in the kitchen:

Let your kids be in charge of the split peas here: they can rinse them, soak them, and carefully stir in the rest of the dal into them with your help. Let them sprinkle over any toppings at the end, too!

Jenny Chandler

Food writer, cookery teacher and former UN FAO Special Ambassador for Pulses, Jenny ( hosts demonstrations and writes for Borough Market. Her latest book is Green Kids Cook.

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