Foodie Friday – Chana Dal with Spinach & Tomato (Curry Night Part 3)


Finally, here it is (drum roll please), the third dish in the New Year’s Day curry menu and I promise that you won’t be disappointed. Having now cooked three dishes from Madhur Jaffrey’s book, Curry Easy Vegetarian, they all have a big, fat tick besides them. Each one was delicious and I can’t wait to check out some more recipes. Thank you Madhur for putting this book together.

So you already have the recipes for Roasted Aubergine & Tomato and Black-eyed Peas with Coriander & Green Chillies, and here is the recipe for the third dish in the Curry Night trilogy, Chana Dal with Spinach and Tomato.

Chana Dal with Spinach and Tomato – serves 2 as a main dish with rice, or 4 when served with another main and side (as per the three recipes I have provided in my last three Foodie Friday posts), preparation 15 minutes, cooking time 30 minutes (if using canned chana).

As I have said before, I find curry dishes always taste better if you allow them at least a few hours to absorb the flavours.


  • 1 can chana (chick peas) well rinsed (you could use dried that need to be washed and soaked overnight)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp ghee (I’ve not found it in Barbados yet and am still resorting to virgin olive oil)
  • pinch of asafoetida (if you can get it, refer the footnote on my previous Foodie Friday post)
  • 1/2 tsp  whole brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds (or 1/2 tsp ground cumin)
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seeds (or 1/2 tsp ground coriander) – this is not in the original recipes and I only added it for extra flavour as I didn’t have curry leaves. If you can get curry leaves, leave this out
  • 2 dried hot red chillies (or 1 tsp chopped dried chilli)
  • 8 fresh curry leaves (I cannot get hold of these and had to leave them out, shame as they really make a good dal in my opinion)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 140-180g well washed spinach, chopped (I used 180g as I love the taste)
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 50g butter (optional, but I like the flavour it gives and like to use it when I am not able to get hold of ghee)


Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat and add the mustard seeds. As soon as they start to pop, add the cumin seeds and coriander seeds (if using them). Stir for a few seconds and add the dried chilli. Add the curry leaves (if you have them!), turmeric (if using canned chana) and then the onions and cook until the onion starts to brown.

Add the garlic and ginger and stir for 1-2 minutes before adding the tomatoes and cooking for a further 5-6 minutes. As they cook, mash down the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the chana* and spinach and 120ml cold water. Stir and bring to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes until the spinach softens and the chana are heated through. Check the seasoning and add black pepper and hot chilli powder to your taste. Add the butter if you require. You can change the consistency by adding more water, depending on your desire for a wet or drier dal.

*Note: If using dried chana you will need to simmer them in a medium saucepan with 1.2 litres of water for 1 1/4 hours, adding both the turmeric and salt to the water during cooking. Drain and rinse before adding them as indicated above.



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