Dal se Dil tak: to the heart through soup

As an Indian living in Canada on MCC’s International Volunteer Exchange Program, I have made dal (lentil soup) a number of times. When I made it for the first time, I was little nervous, but it was requested again for different groups of people and every time quantity increased.

First, I cooked dal for my host family. Then, my host mom suggested I make it for Thrift on Kent staff (eight people) for our once-a-week soup day. Later, she asked me to make it for Avocat, a MB Mission event she was organising (50–60 people).

Every time the responses were happy faces with happy tummies – which made me happy to share a little bit of India in a bowl (sometimes two)!

Dal is a basic everyday food in India, frequently eaten with flatbread such as roti or chapati or with rice (a combination referred to as dal bhat).

This is the recipe I made for soup day. It’s my personal favourite.

—A Mennonite World Conference release. Ashisha Lal serves as a management support worker at Thrift on Kent in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. She is from Korba, Chhattisgarh, India. Her home church is Katghora Mennonite Church, part of Bharatiya General Conference Mennonite Calisiya (BGCMC).



Palak dal 

Servings: 4


¼ cup tuvar dal (pigeon pea lentils)
¼ cup masoor dal (pink lentils) Ashisha Lal
2 cups palak (spinach), chopped
1 cup chopped tomato
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1-2 hari mirch (green chilies), chopped
1 inch adrak (ginger), chopped
1 teaspoon sabut jeera (cumin seeds)
¼ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
½ teaspoon haldi (turmeric powder)
½ teaspoon lal mirch (red chili powder)
2–2.5 cups water, for cooking lentils
½–1 cup water, to add at the last step
2–3 tablespoons ghee or oil
salt as required
coriander/cilantro for topping



Wash lentils. Prepare in a pressure cooker with turmeric powder, tomato and chopped garlic. Add 2–2.5 cups of water. Pressure cook for 5–6 whistles or until dal becomes soft and mushy.


Mash and set aside.

In a pan, heat ghee. Fry cumin, then add chopped ginger. Fry until the raw ginger aroma abates.

Add chopped chili. Fry for half a minute. .
Add chopped spinach. Add red chili powder and asafoetida
Sauté until spinach becomes soft and stops releasing water.
Add mashed lentils.
Add water (½–1 cup, to desired thickness).
Add salt and coriander/cilantro. Simmer 5–6 minutes.

Serve hot with rice and a side vegetable dish or salad or raita (Indian yoghurt).

*Finding unfamiliar words in this recipe? Use your favourite search engine to learn about these new (to you) ingredients.

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