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Palak Dal

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

This recipe is my version of Sri-Lankan Palak Dal (Lentils with Spinach). The traditional recipe was introduced to me by my fellow Sri-Lankan Chef Akhil, my personal touch is the addition of roasted sweet potatoes and peppers. In short, it is very simple to prepare and absolutely delicious, you can eat it with flatbread, rice or as is. If you are looking to add lentils to your diet, this is the best place to start. Enjoy the food!

Palak Dal
Palak Dal

Ingredients for Dhal:

  • 150g (5.3oz) of red lentils

  • 700ml (0.74quarts) of vegetable stock

  • 400ml (0.42quarts) of coconut milk

  • 400g (14.1oz) sweet potato small dice, skin removed

  • 80g (2.8oz) of spinach

  • 2 medium tomatoes

  • 1 red pepper, diced

  • 1 medium-size onion

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 2tsp turmeric

  • 1/2tsp cumin

  • 1tsp garam masala

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • pinch of chilli powder (adjust to preference)

  • 3 tbsp of canola oil

  • dash of lime juice

  • salt

  • coriander (optional)

Instructions for Dhal:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (365F). Mix diced sweet potato and diced red pepper with enough oil to coat and a little bit of salt. Place on a tray with baking paper ready to roast. On the same tray place 2 medium tomatoes and put everything in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

  2. Place red lentils, 700ml of vegetable stock and cinnamon stick in a medium-size pot, bring to the boil then reduce to simmer for around 30 minutes.

  3. In a frying pan, medium heat 1tbsp of oil and add 1 diced onion. Sweat the onion for 5 minutes then add minced 2 garlic cloves, 2tsp of turmeric, 1/2tsp cumin, 1tsp garam masala (add a little more oil if it looks too dry) Once the spices release the fragrance you can transfer everything to the pot with lentils.

  4. By this time your lentils should be cooked nicely, add 400ml of coconut milk and bring it back to simmer.

  5. Once roasted vegetables are ready transfer them to the master pot, remember to remove the skin from the tomatoes and smash them apart first.

  6. Add spinach, a dash of lime juice and a pinch of chilli powder.

  7. Continue simmering Dhal until the right consistency is reached, add more water if it seems too thick.

  8. Serve with rice, flatbread or enjoy on its own!

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Ingredients for Naan Bread:

  • 250g (8.8oz) of plain flour

  • 2tsp of sugar

  • 1/2tsp salt

  • 1/2tsp baking powder

  • 130ml (4.6oz) of milk

  • 1tbsp of canola oil

  • 3tbsp of ghee for pan frying

  • 1tsp Nigella seeds

Instructions for Naan Bread:

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together then add 130ml of milk with 1tbsp of canola oil. Bring the dough together by hand or a stand mixer. Knead until smooth (around 10 minutes by hand, 6 minutes by mixer).

  2. Rest the dough covered with a cloth for a minimum of 30 minutes to relax the gluten.

  3. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions and roll with a pin as thin as possible.

  4. High heat the frying pan with 1tbsp of ghee, cook naan bread on each side until golden brown. Repeat and add more ghee if needed.


  • Adding coconut milk in later stages of cooking helps to preserve the bright colour of the dish.

  • Red lentils are perfect as a thickening agent for sauces.

Here is the Dhal prepared by Reddit user r/mgende. Great job!

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Made this recipe and the naan last night. I think my naan needs a little work, but the dal was delicious, full of flavor, and very warm and satisfiying. I look forward to eating it again tonight.

Łukasz Babral
Łukasz Babral
Dec 05, 2021
Replying to

That is great Mandy! It is all about practice, next one will be better :)

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