Chana Dal (Yellow Lentils) With Spinach

"Chana dal (or bengal gram) is my favorite variety of lentil, and together with spinach with a wonderful blend of spices in this dish, makes for a very wholesome, nourishing meal.Prep time does not include time for pre-soaking lentils. (Note: this is a rather dry lentil dish, if you prefer the more wet, soupy variety then you could opt for another recipe with chana dal that I have posted: #83985)"
photo by eatrealfood photo by eatrealfood
photo by eatrealfood
photo by eatrealfood photo by eatrealfood
Ready In:




  • Wash lentils and allow to soak in water at least an hour before use (I usually let mine soak overnight).
  • Drain the lentils, place in a large pot with enough water to cover the lentils, bring to a boil and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until the lentils have softened (you may use additional water to do this).
  • Cook uncovered to let the cooking liquid evaporate - but be careful not to overcook such that they become mushy.
  • Heat oil, add bay leaves and cinnamon, and then fry mustard seeds till they sputter, then add onion, ginger, garlic and chili and fry a further 5 minutes.
  • Add spinach and cook for 10 minutes or until spinach is dry and liquid has been absorbed.
  • Stir in the remaining spices and salt and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Finally add the lentils, stir and cook a further 5 minutes.

Questions & Replies

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  1. What you might not understand is that every Indian household has their own recipes so those saying its "not authentic" how would you know?? Please people, twerk the recipe to your own taste, add more spice or whatever. This is a great recipe to use as a jumping off point to discovering Indian food. Relax, chillout, stop being judgemental & start cooking.
  2. Unlike other reviewers, I didn't find this bland at all, and I followed the recipe nearly exactly. Because I love black mustard seeds, I doubled those. And I decided that the ingredients list meant to include a fresh chile so I added a minced birdseye chili. I should have used a more mellow chili, but I can't blame the recipe for that! Very nice dish.
  3. Who cares if it's authentic, it's delicious. I used kale because I prefer it and because I had it in the fridge, adding it and some water after the onions etc. started to release the oil, which increased the cooking time; once the kale was tender, I evaporated the liquid back to the oil, and then proceeded as usual. Also had a boiled potato on hand so added that when I did the dal and it didn't hurt it a bit. I did add 1/4 tsp of amchur (dried mango) to offset the kale's bitterness, and I think next time I would add a bit of turmeric to boost the color. Otherwise, this is now one of my go-to recipes. I think even my husband would eat it. I don't think canned chickpeas would be an acceptable substitute, though.
  4. Brilliant recipe! It actually pushed me to finally register here so I could post a review, but also so I could suggest one small correction; Chana Dal are NOT Yellow Lentils, they are husked, split black chickpeas. Indian yellow lentils are Moong Dal; there is also a Mexican yellow lentil whose name escapes me right now. However, I'm betting this recipe would work quite well with yellow lentils of either variety. Maybe you can revise to "Chana Dal or Yellow Lentils with Spinach."
  5. I really wanted to try this, but I didn't have chana dal on hand, so I used urad dal instead. It turned out really great! I also used fresh spinach, just because I had some I needed to use. That made it a lot more work, so I will probably stick with frozen next time. Other than that, I made pretty much as written. I did use pure cayenne for the chile powder and found it to be a little on the mild side, but not in a bad way. This is my idea of real comfort food. Thanks so much for sharing, this will be made frequently at my home!


  1. More mustard seeds, added a fresh chili


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