Chana daal with fresh spinach

Tonight felt like curry night, and I was really in the mood for daal.

Our local takeaway does a delicious tarka daal, but none of my homemade ones have ever come close.

Until tonight, that is.

This is a recipe I clipped from a newspaper awhile back: Chana daal with fresh spinach. It is courtesy of Sam Hackett, co-owner of the Thali Cafe restaurants in Bristol.

It was creamy and delicious, and very more-ish. The kind of dish that makes you want to lick the plate after.

It was served with potato cutlets stuffed with peas from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cookery; a simple carrot salad from the same book; Mr Thrifty’s onion salad; basmati rice; papadums and chutneys.

A most delicious Indian meal!


Chana daal with fresh spinach

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Yield 2 servings


  • 1/2 cup chana daal, soaked for two hours
  • 3-1/2 cups water (850ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons tamarind paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 handful fresh spinach leaves, finely sliced


  1. Boil 1-1/2 cups water and salt in a pan.
  2. Add the soaked (and drained) chana daal, cover the pan and cook over a medium flame for 30 minutes.
  3. Add cayenne, turmeric, cumin, coriander, sugar and tamarind paste. Stir well and allow to simmer, uncovered, for another hour or more. Stir regularly and add boiling water as needed as the daal cooks and thickens. It will be thicker on the bottom than it looks on top, so don’t neglect stirring! The longer it cooks, the more creamy it will get.
  4. When daal has finished cooking, heat vegetable oil over low heat and add mustard seeds and garlic.
  5. When hot, add the oil mixture to the simmering pot of daal and mix.
  6. Add spinach and keep covered for two minutes while the daal continues to simmer. Cook uncovered for five more minutes.


  1. That looks delicious and I love more-ish meals apart from the fact that I always want to eat the entire batch!

  2. Tried to find the recipe from the link; can you provide it? Love your blog, and the practical, down to earth veggie foods.

  3. hi alexandra,
    The recipe isn’t on their website, but I’ll post it in a few days.

  4. looking forward Felicity.

  5. Oh yummy I am soooo making this soon. I love a good curry.

  6. Funnily enough I made dahl with spinach a couple of days ago to accompany a take-away curry. And there was I thinking I was original!!! It tasted great, and I’ll make it again. Dahl is sooooo moreish though, isn’t it? Yum 🙂

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