If a culinary history of the Husain family is ever written, Saag Dal will surely have a place of honour in it. It is delicious, comfort food and requires just two essential ingredients – spinach and lentils. When I was growing up in Ranchi, our house was close to farms, from where we would get fresh greens whenever we desired. My mother would make Saag Dal with those greens and retire for a long afternoon nap. Once her siesta ended, she would feed us the dal with steamed rice, pickle and papad.

  • Serves


  • Cook Time



  • 500 gm spinach, rinsed and chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 1.5 cups chana dal
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder

For Tadka

  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 3-4 dried red chillies


  1. Wash the dal and soak it for 2-3 hours.
  2. In a pressure cooker, heat ghee (or any other oil you like) and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Let them sizzle, but ensure they don’t burn.
  3. Toss in the chopped onion and fry them until they turn light brown or semi-translucent.
  4. Put in the chopped spinach and soaked lentils. After cooking on medium flame for 3-5 minutes, pour water and cover the lid.
  5. Cook on medium flame for 3 whistles.
  6. Let the steam dissipate before opening the pressure cooker. If you find the consistency too thick, you can add more water.
  7. Stir in the turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt and let all simmer for 5-8 minutes.
  8. Prepare the tadka by first heating ghee in a pan.
  9. Toss in the chopped garlic and cook until they turn golden brown. Add ginger and red chillies.
  10. Pour this tadka into the dal and cover with a lid. Let the dal rest for 5-8 minutes.
  11. Serve hot with steamed rice.
Sadaf Hussain

Sadaf Hussain

Sadaf Hussain is the author of Daastan-e-Dastarkhan, a consultant chef based in Delhi, and a TEDx speaker. He was one of the top MasterChef India contestants in 2016. He is a passionate storyteller and his interest lies in discovering stories related to the origin of various kinds of food. He runs a food website, www.foodandstreets.com, and hosts online food shows that feature street food and rare dishes.

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