Spinach and Paneer Dal

This was a recipe I got from Chow, and modified a little bit because a) I had no yellow lentils, and b) I really wanted to add paneer.  I think the addition of paneer was a good one for sure – delish!  But this would have done a little better with yellow split peas – it could have used the bulk.  Still very good, though, and one we’ll make again.  We’d normally serve this over rice or with some naan, though we’re trying to watch the carb overload during Mostly Meatless March.  I paired this with curried roasted cauliflower.


  • 2 cups yellow split peas (other varieties of peas/lentils will work, but watch the liquid so it’s not soupy)
  • 8 cups vegetable stock (less depending on variety)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 medium lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used SmartBalance)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger (from about a 4-inch piece)
  • 1 medium serrano chile, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1 bag baby spinach, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 block paneer, cut into cubes and pan-seared to brown.

Place the split peas in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Transfer to a large saucepan, add the measured water, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and skimming any scum off the surface with a large spoon, until the peas are completely soft and the consistency of split pea soup, about 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and measured salt; set aside.

Meanwhile, cube and lightly brown the paneer in a frying plan over medium heat.  Sprinkle with garam masala while cooking, if desired.

Heat the butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat until foaming. Add the cumin seeds and turmeric and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cumin seeds are toasted and fragrant and the butter is very foamy, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and serrano; season with salt; and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is completely wilted, about 4 minutes.

Transfer the spinach mixture to the reserved saucepan with the split peas and stir to combine.   This makes a ton of leftovers, so it’s a great one for lunches, etc.


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