Five-Dal Spinach Soup

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Five-Dal Spinach Soup

It was a gift of Yamuna Devi's Lord Krishna's Cuisine years ago that got me started on Indian cuisine, and it's still by far the finest Indian vegetarian cookbook I've ever come across. One of my favorite sections is her dal soups, which are always so simple to prepare, easily digestible, and exotically fragrant and delicious. This "panch dal shorba" made with spinach and five different split dals is an especially lovely and nutritious soup for a light lunch or dinner served with rice and a green salad with a mango dressing. And despite the quantity of spices, this soup is more aromatic than hot — the piquancy of the cumin, chilies and cayenne linger pleasantly rather than painfully on the tongue, although the chilies and cayenne can be reduced slightly for sensitive palettes.

All of these dals are always available at Indian grocers, along with the pungent asafetida powder that is essential to these aromatic Indian lentil soups.

Five-Dal Spinach SoupFive-Dal Spinach Soup
Recipe by
Adapted from Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking
Cuisine: Indian
Published on November 16, 2007

Simple, fragrant and delicious creamy soup with five split dals, spinach and vibrant Indian seasonings

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  • 3 tablespoons split mung dal
  • 3 tablespoons split urad dal
  • 3 tablespoons split toor dal
  • 3 tablespoons split green peas
  • 3 tablespoons split chana dal
  • 1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, shredded or minced (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or a mixture of butter and olive oil
  • 4 oz baby spinach or 6 oz spinach or chard, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 3 to 6 fresh green chilies, to taste, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/3 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • small handful of fresh parsley or coriander, chopped
  • Rinse the split dals under cold running water in a fine-mesh strainer. Cover with hot water in a bowl and soak for 2 to 3 hours. Drain.

  • Combine the dals, ginger, turmeric, ground coriander and 1 tablespoon of the ghee or butter and olive oil with 7 cups of cold water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to moderately low and cover, cooking gently for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the dals are fully cooked and soft.

  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and blend the dals with a hand-blender or wire whisk until the soup is creamy. Put the soup back on the stove, add the spinach or chard, and continue to cook gently for 10 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, heat the remaining ghee or butter and olive oil in a frying pan over moderately high heat. When hot, toss in the cumin seeds and chilies and fry for 30 to 60 seconds or until the seeds turn brown. Stir in the cayenne, asafetida and bay leaf, wait 15 seconds, then pour the fried spices into the soup. Swirl a few tablespoons of water in the emptied frying pan to gather the rest of the flavors and add to the soup as well. Sprinkle in the garam masala and cover for a few minutes to let the seasonings blend into the soup.

  • Just before serving, stir in the salt and chopped parsley or coriander.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 comment:

TBC said...

The spinach dal looks good. I can imagine how great it tasted.