Sri Lankan Palak Dal /Lentils with Spinach

sri lankan palak dal recipe

South Indian cuisine has a lot in common with the culinary art in the neighbouring country: Sri Lanka. The thick gravy in this recipe is originally prepared with coconut milk, as the region is abundant in coconut. I have tried it out with milk, which could be used as a substitute in regions where coconut is difficult to obtain; though the taste will vary a little. Also, in the original recipe great care is taken to see that the lentil does not become pulpy and can be separately visible. If adding it in a child’s diet, then the lentil can be cooked soft and pulpy.


Sri Lankan Palak Dal

Time taken: 50 min

Taste-o-meter: Slightly spicy



  • Split pigeon peas (toor dal): little more than 1 cup
  • Spinach (chopped): 1 bunch
  • Small onion (finely chopped): 1
  • Small tomato (finely chopped): 1
  • Dry, red chillies: 2
  • Crushed garlic: 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon stick: 1 inch
  • Cumin seeds: ½ tsp
  • Milk: 1/2 cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil: 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds: 1/2
  • A few curry leaves


  • Soak the dal for 25 min and cook it in minimum water.
  • Heat oil in a thick-bottomed pan and add mustard seeds. When it starts spluttering, add the cinnamon, chillies, garlic, cumin seeds, curry leaves and onions. Stir and fry till the onions turn transparent.
  • Add the tomatoes and mix well for a minute.
  • Add the chopped spinach and lower the flame. Let it cook. Keep stirring and mix all the ingredients well.
  • Add the cooked dal and stir gently. Bring it to a boil; reduce fire and add the milk and salt.
  • Simmer for 5 min and remove from fire.
  • Serve hot with steamed white rice and pickle. This is also a good accompaniment with rotis/paranthas.


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