Lentil Saag Dahl

Lentil Saag Dahl


This hearty and comforting dahl is made with onions, red lentils, yellow split peas and toasted spices. It is then finished with fresh spinach, lemon juice and cilantro.
  • Serves: 8 to 10
  • Active Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hrs
  • Views: 16,847
  • Success Rating: 100% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Gathering & Preparing Your Mise en Place

• 2 cups red lentils*
• 1 cup yellow split peas*
• 1 lrg onion, diced
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
• 1 tbsp turmeric
• 3 green cardamom pods
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 tsp cumin seeds
• 2 tsp mustard seeds
• 2 tsp onion seeds
• 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
• 1 tsp fennel seeds
• 1/2 tsp chili powder* (or to taste, can also just add a jalapeño is you like)
• 2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
• 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
• 1 - 28 oz can diced tomatoes
• 7 to 8 cups water or vegetable stock


*Note: Any combination of red lentil and yellow peas can be used. You can even use part split mung beans if you like.

To prepare the lentils and peas, simply rinse them well to remove any dirt or small stones and then drain.

Step 2: Cooking the Dahl

• 7 to 8 cups water
• 2 tbsp oil (optional)*


To cook the dahl, heat a large Dutch oven or pot over low heat. Then add the oil, followed by the onions and a good pinch of salt. *Note: Alternatively, the onions can be dry-sautéed.

Let the onions cook for approximately 15 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Then add the garlic and ginger and let cook for about 30 seconds. Next, create a hole in the middle of the onion mixture and add a touch more oil (if needed) and then add the cumin, mustard, onion, fenugreek and fennel seeds. Turn the heat up to medium and toast the seeds until they become fragrant. Be sure to stir the seeds frequently so they do not burn.

Once done, add the remaining spices, as well as the salt and pepper. At this point, turn the heat back down to low and then add the remaining spices and stir to combine.

Note: from this point forward, everything can be added and finished in a slow cooker.

Lastly, add the lentils, split peas, diced tomatoes and 7 cups of water (start with 6 cups if using a slow cooker) and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Cover the pot with a lid slightly ajar and let cook for approximately 1 1/2 hours, or until the split peas are soft and fully cooked through. Stir frequently, to ensure the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pot and add more water as needed.

If using a slow cooker, cook for approximately 8 to 10 hours on low, or 4 to 5 hours on high.

Step 3: Adding the Spinach | Optional

• 8 oz baby spinach, or to taste


Once the dahl has fully cooked, add the spinach. Note, if making this dish the day before, do not add the spinach until ready to serve. This will help maintain it’s vibrant green color.

If not using baby spinach leaves, be sure to roughly chop the spinach before adding it to the dahl.

Cook the spinach until it wilts and becomes soft.

Step 4: Finishing & Serving the Dahl

• fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
• fresh lemon juice, to taste
• salt, to taste
• pappadums
• cooked basmati rice (brown or white)
• garam masala, to taste (optional)


To finish the dahl, add the cilantro and fresh lemon juice and taste for seasoning — adding more salt and/or a touch of garam masala, if needed.

Serve the dahl with basmati rice, pappadums and additional toasted cumin and onion seeds, if desired.

Chef's Notes

While this dahl makes a delicious meal or side dish, it also happens to make a healthy dip and/or spread for sandwiches, crackers or vegetables.


  • Karen R
    Karen R
    I was unable to purchase fenugreek seeds, so I bought ground fenugreek. How much ground should I use in place of the whole seeds? I've not used this spice before. (-: Thanks!
  • Lauren L
    Lauren L
    Hi Karen, thank you for your question! I would start with 1 to 1-1/2 tsp ground fenugreek. There are a lot of factors in converting whole to ground spices. While weighing the spices is the most accurate way, there is enough flexibility in this recipe to just take an educated guess. It should turn out wonderfully! Lauren

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