Dhal with spinach

Dhal with spinach

Sri Lankan Flavours
Craig Wood

Dhal is a major part of a Sri Lankan everyday diet – no meal is cooked without it. My mother always used to add extra ingredients to dhal such as spinach, which enhances the lentil flavours and gives it visual appeal. Traditionally Sri Lankans eat dhal as a breakfast dish with bread or roti, but you can serve it as a lunch or light dinner or as an accompaniment for rice.


Quantity Ingredient
1 cup lentils
water, for soaking
2 1/2 cups water, extra
2 teaspoons coconut or vegetable oil
2 Salted chillies, broken into pieces
1/4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
5-10 curry leaves
1/2 onion, chopped
10 cm piece rampe, (optional)
2cm cinnamon stick
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
80g baby spinach

Spice mixture

Quantity Ingredient
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon chilli powder, (optional)
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed


  1. Cover lentils with water and soak for an hour. Drain and set aside.
  2. Put the extra 2 1/2 cups of water, the spice mixture and lentils into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5–6 minutes or until lentils are soft but not overcooked.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Add the salted chillies and mustard seeds and heat through until the mustard seeds pop up – about 30 seconds. Add the curry leaves, onion, rampe, cinnamon and garlic and cook for another 1–2 minutes, until the ingredients are brown but not burnt.
  4. Add tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring until the tomatoes are mixed well. Add lentil mixture, stir thoroughly and bring to the boil. Add coconut milk and salt, reduce heat and allow to simmer.
  5. Remove from the heat, add spinach to mixture, stir through and serve.
Sri Lankan Flavours
South East Asian
Southeast Asian
Sri Lankan
South-East Asian
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