Quick and easy Sri Lankan recipe for dhal and spinach curry

Quick and easy Sri Lankan recipe for dhal and spinach curry

This Sri Lankan recipe for dhal and spinach curry is quick and easy to make. It’s nutritious, low fat, packed with protein and delicious. I love dhal.  Dhal is my ultimate comfort food. I can’t get enough of the stuff. Whenever I make a curry, I will always make a side dish of dhal. A dhal curry is so versatile.

Dhal curry is so underrated. It’s easy to make, with only a handful of spices. It’s low-fat and packed full of nutrients. This Sri Lankan dhal and spinach really is a bowl full of goodness.

Sri Lankan recipe for dhal and spinach curry, eat as a main or as a side

I’ve written up this recipe as a side dish. I’d normally eat this alongside a chicken or a pork curry. But this recipe for Sri Lankan dhal and spinach curry works perfectly well as a main course. In which case, double up the quantities, and enjoy double the goodness.

There are so many different ways to make a dhal curry. There is no right way or wrong way. This is the recipe that was handed down to me by my mother. But I am not precious. The most important thing for me is, the dhal curry must taste good.

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Sri Lankan recipe for dhal and spinach curry

Quick and easy Sri Lankan recipe for dhal and spinach curry

  • Author: Tooting Mama
  • Cook Time: 30 - 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 22 minute
  • Yield: 4 people 1x
  • Category: Side dish


  • 300g red lentils (washed)
  • 600 mls water (up to a litre)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 fresh green chilli (seeds removed)
  • a pinch of fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 dried red chilli crushed
  • 1 tsp Maldive fish flakes
  • a generous pinch of curry leaves
  • 1 red onion sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 100g spinach (chopped)
  • salt to taste


  1. Put the washed lentils into a medium-sized saucepan. Add the water. Into this drop in the peeled clove of garlic, the deseeded chilli, a pinch of fenugreek seeds and the turmeric.
  2. Bring the water to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and allow the lentils to simmer.
  3. Let the lentil simmer for around twenty minutes. Occasionally skim of the foam that will develop. Give the lentil the occasional stir.
  4. The water will start to reduce, but what you are looking for is for the lentils to become mushy and creamy. If the lentils start to dry out, add more water and give the lentils a good stir.
  5. You can continue to keep the lentils cooking while you temper the onions and spinach.
  6. In a small frying pan heat the oil before adding the cumin and mustard seeds, chilli and Maldive fish.
  7. Once the seeds start popping add the onion. Lower the heat, and allow the onions to cook, let them become transparent.
  8. Now add the garlic, ginger, and continue to stir.
  9. Add the chopped spinach. Toss the spinach in the onion, garlic, ginger and spices. Allow the spinach to wilt and soak up the spices.
  10. As the onions start to brown, tip the contents of the frying pan and stir into the dhal. Mix thoroughly.
  11. Now, add salt. Be generous, don’t skimp, it’s the salt that makes this recipe. And keep tasting, you’re fine tuning the dhal to a taste YOU love.
  12. Got a taste you love? Serve up immediately with your favourite curry and rice.


  • Before cooking lentils, wash them through in cold water
  • Put the lentils into a saucepan. Add cold water, and swirl the water with your hand.
  • The water will turn cloudy. Tip the water out into the sink, and start again
  • Keep washing the lentils until the water is clear
  • Maldive fish is dried tuna, a typical Sri Lankan ingredient and used to give a dish that umami quality. Therefore to make this dish truly vegetarian or vegan simply leave this out

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