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Red lentils, or masoor dal, are a weeknight dinner superstar: They’re inexpensive, quick-cooking, and endlessly versatile. “I often cook a lot of masoor dal over the weekend to quickly flavor during the week for last-minute meals,” says cookbook author and Brooklyn Delhi founder Chitra Agrawal. “This dal palak packed with spinach is one of my go-to ways to use it.” If you’re strapped for time, Agrawal suggests throwing in baby spinach straight from the package rather than washing and chopping mature spinach leaves. For an extra savory note, add a big pinch of asafetida to the melted ghee when you add the seeds.

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4 Servings


cup masoor dal (red lentils)


tsp. ground turmeric


lime, halved, divided

tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more


Tbsp. ghee or unsalted butter


tsp. black mustard seeds


tsp. cumin seeds


tsp. fennel seed


small dried red chile, broken in half


small onion, coarsely chopped


garlic cloves, finely chopped


tsp. finely grated peeled ginger


cups spinach, coarsely chopped

Steamed rice, cilantro leaves, and lime wedges (for serving)


Step 1

Rinse dal in a fine-mesh sieve. Transfer to a medium saucepan and pour in 3 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. (Watch carefully as the water can boil over quickly.) Cook, skimming foam from surface, until mixture stops foaming, about 3 minutes. Stir in turmeric. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer until tender, 25–30 minutes. Remove from heat and squeeze in juice from a lime half, then stir in 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt.

Step 2

Meanwhile, melt ghee in a high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add mustard, cumin, and fennel seeds and cook (a matter of seconds) until mustard seeds start to pop and oil around other seeds is sizzling. Reduce heat to medium. Add chile and stir to coat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally to coat, until translucent and softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spinach and ½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt and cook, stirring often, until wilted but still bright green, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and squeeze in juice from remaining lime half.

Step 3

Add spinach mixture to dal; season with salt. Divide rice and dal among bowls. Top with cilantro; serve with lime wedges.

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