Dhal with Spinach

Dhal is a major part of Sri Lankan everyday diet – no meal without dhal. Traditionally, Sri Lankans eat dhal for breakfast with coconut bread Rotti, but you can also serve it for lunch or dinner with rice.



  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2½ cups water
  • 2 spoons coconut or peanut oil
  • 1 chilli
  • ¼ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 5-10 curry leaves
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 cm piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 100 g baby spinach

For spice mixture:

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic



Put lentils in a big bowl with water and let them soak for one hour.

Boil 2½ cups of water, the spice mixture and lentils in a saucepan. Reduce the heat, remove the lid and let it cook for 5-6 minutes.

Add chopped chillies and mustard seeds into a frying pan with oil. Over medium heat the mustard seeds will pop up quite quickly. Then add the curry leaves, onion, cinnamon and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Before you add the lentils which you removed from the water, add the tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. Let the whole mixture boil before you add coconut milk and salt. Leave it cook over low heat for a while. As the very last thing add the spinach and serve while still warm.




Recipe adapted from Sri Lankan Flavours by Channa Dassanayaka.

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