Urad Dhal with silverbeet

Dhal or dal traditionally is made with toor dhal. Sometimes it is roasted and then cooked in the pressure cooker. This particular recipe is unusual in the sense that the dhal is made with urad dhal and most of the cooking is done while roasting with ghee. There is very little water used, most of the liquid needed is from tomatoes and onions. It is thick and delicious and is a satisfying plant based meal when served with brown rice.


140 grams urad dhal, rinsed

100 grams moong dhal, rinsed

600 grams onions thinly sliced

80 grams ghee or clarified butter

2 tablespoons tomato paste

80 grams ginger, peeled and finely chopped

3-5 red chillies, (de-seeded if preferred) and finely sliced

5 – 6 sprigs tender curry leaves

400 grams of tinned tomatoes, sliced

3-4 (150 grams) large silverbeet leaves (remove the central rib and chop very finely)

Salt to taste

Freshly ground pepper


Place the ghee in a medium sauce pan on a medium heat. Add the two dhals and fry for a couple of minutes, stirring often, until fragrant.

Add onions along with a pinch of salt and continue to cook on medium heat for ten minutes. The onions need to be soft but not take on any colour.

Add the ginger, tomato paste, ginger, chillies and curry leaves and cook for a further five minutes, stirring from time to time. Add a tablespoon of water from time to time if the mixture starts to stick to the bottom.

Add the tomatoes and cook for about ten minutes. Stir from time to time, until the tomatoes have softened and incorporated into the dhal.

Pour about 100ml of water and continue cooking for 5 minutes or so. The dhals should be soft but still hold their shape.

Remove from heat and using a stick blender, blitz lightly so the dhal comes together. It should be thick and have texture and not become a puree. You can even use a wooden spoon instead of a stick blender.

Return the dhal to heat and stir in the chopped silverbeet for 30 seconds. You just want them to wilt and stay vibrant.

Serve hot with brown rice. Serves 4.

Cook’s notes:

You can use baby spinach instead of silverbeet.

You can substitute the ghee with coconut oil (odourless).

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