Coconut Spinach Dahl

Coconut spinach dahl「ココナツほうれん草豆」
Indian cuisine「インド料理」

Prep time: 15 min | Cooking time: 45 min

Coconut Spinach DahlI’ve tried countless variations of this recipe, mixing and matching ingredients based off my research. As of right now, this is my favorite rendition, but I’ll likely be updating it again as I have some new ideas for next time. The basic blueprint of this recipe was located on as contributed by Gillian Stevens.

The key to this recipe is to cook off all of the water before adding the coconut base to the lentils, allowing the spices to become concentrated in the lentils. Although the lentils may appear to be the base for this recipe, it is really the coconut mixture that will act as the base. But beware, if you don’t cook off the vast majority of the water prior to adding the coconut mixture, you will wind up with a very runny, lackluster coconut dahl.

This recipe is great served over a bed of couscous. Try broiling some tandoori chicken on the side as well. If you’re up for the challenge, you could also cook up some roti or nan. I’m still in the process of researching the tandoori spices, roti, and nan, but if I have any success, I’ll let you know!


400 ml lentils (dehydrated)
800 ml water
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chili powder (half this if you’re feeling less than adventurous)

400g spinach, shredded
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons curry powder

2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 400 ml tin coconut milk
1 teaspoon graram masala

Optional: A small head of chopped cauliflower or broccoli (just one of the two or half-half). This adds a creamy flavour. Also, if you want to up the protein content, add some coarsely chopped firm tofu a couple of minutes before serving. Blanching the tofu first really helps to firm it up.


1) Rinse lentils and soak for 30 minutes. Drain.

2) Prep the onion and spinach. Rinse the spinach well and set aside.

3) In a large saucepan, bring 800 ml of water to a boil and add the lentils. Stir in the turmeric and chili powder. Cover and return to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes (until the water is nearly gone – just enough so that the lentils don’t stick).*

4) At the same time, heat the oil over a medium flame and add the curry powder, stirring often. After a minute, add and saute onions until semi-translucent.

5) Stir in cumin, mustard seeds, salt, and the coconut milk. Simmer until heated through, adding the graram masala just before removing the coconut base from the heat.

6) While the coconut base is still simmering, keep an eye on the lentils. Once the water is nearly gone (see step 2), stir the spinach into the lentils. Cover and cook 2 minutes.

7) After steaming the spinach, add the coconut base to lentil mix. Heat as necessary until the flavours are mixed and any additional vegetables are soft. Taste and add more salt as necessary. If you want it to be spicier, I would recommend adding some shaved ginger.

*If you want to add cauliflower, add it at about the 15 minute mark.


3 thoughts on “Coconut Spinach Dahl

  1. Hi JJWs, I spoke to your parents last night. Helen and I (Bill) are heading back to Kunming, China, April 1 for another 3 months. I love that you have passion for food. You and Helen will have to get together sometime. She is always in the kitchen trying new things to export to China. My son Mike, is also heading that way, loves baking and cooking for his new wife ! If Jonathan was here I am sure he would say hello. Bless you both.

  2. hmm.. interesting.. I would do it a little different. Try this out the next time. When you are at step 4, once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds first, allow them to pop, then add the cumin seeds (i would do away with the cumin seed), then add the onion (i would add a small stick of ginger and a clove or two of garlic, all nicely chopped), once the onion turns translucent, add in a little bit of salt, turmeric, chilly powder and the garam masala. To this mix add the cooked lentil + spinach mix, stir fry for a little bit, and then add the coconut milk. (back at home, grand mom always says that coconut milk should not be brought to a boil). Stir on medium heat for some time, and right before you take out, add a little bit of black pepper powder on top… 🙂

    • Cheers! I’ll definitely give those suggestions a go next time around. Grandmothers advice should always be heeded.

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