Sag daal recipe

DaalI am not Indian. I’ve never been to India. I did not learn this recipe at the elbow of a dear friend’s grandmother. I do, however, really appreciate how folks on the Subcontinent contrive to cook legumes so they are flavorful, filling, and satisfying. Without resorting to smoked ham hocks. So here’s my American kitchen version of Sag Daal.

In a large pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for ~45 minutes:

  • 1c. split yellow peas (or mung daal, but the yellow peas are 1/3 the price, grown closer to home, and more widely available)
  • 4c. water

Stir occasionally, especially toward the end of the cooking time. When the beans are cooked and essentially pureed, add a “whole lot” of chopped raw spinach or kale (8 cups? A bag of spinach? One bunch of kale?). Stir this into the beans so it will wilt.

Sautée the following in a frying pan. Adjust spices to taste…I generally “wing it.”

  • 1/4c. oil (yes, really that much…or even more)
  • 1 onion, diced or sliced into thin rings
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt (to taste – all beans need a lot of salt)
  • 1to 2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder or 3 cloves fresh
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. dry ginger or 2 tsp. fresh
  • 1/2 tsp. corriander (ground)
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin

When the onions are soft, stir the spice mixture into the bean/spinach mixture. Adjust seasonings and serve over rice.



  1. shayne said,

    July 27, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    I love food like this and peas and lentils are some of my faves but I am the only one that easts them booohooohooo:.( your is a must try I just have to go get some turmeric, I am out

  2. Diana Dyer said,

    July 29, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    GREAT sounding recipe – legumes of any kind with fabulous spices are just my thing.

    Shayne – don’t give up! Although I remember the day that my boys were old enough to “gang up” on me with a united request for “no more beans every single night, Mom!”, they are now both happy bean eaters, one even a vegan.

  3. Emily said,

    July 29, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    I hated beans, too, as a kid. Especially mushy ones, like refried beans or split peas. I started to “get into” beans just after college – stretching a buck, eating healthy food, and all that. I’d “stretch” a quarter or half pound of ground beef with either whole or refried beans, season it up, and make burritos. My sweetie likes these, too, which lets us cut the meat in half but keeping most of the flavor and texture of beef.

  4. October 31, 2010 at 11:57 am

    […] 1 cup leftover dal […]

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