Kale Dal Fry (Indian spiced yellow lentils with Kale)

I had been wanting to try using kale in my regular dal recipe for a while now, and yesterday I got just the opportunity to do so. I was rummaging through my fridge for a last minute dinner inspiration and saw this bunch of day old kale. And just like that, I knew it was time to make Kale dal. Now I make ‘Palak Dal’ or spinach dal quiet often as I love the earthy flavours of the dish, so I decided to simply switch spinach with kale. It more than worked, the result was a rich protein packed dal, which complimented the slightly bitter taste of kale so well.

I am a recent Kale convert I must confess. Growing up I had never really eaten kale, as it’s not available in India. We used to have other kinds of seasonal greens though, my favourite being spinach and ‘bathua’(sort of weedy plant that grows in india during winters) and I could eat tonnes of it. I guess my mother never had any problems with me eating my greens. I always loved green vegetables, maybe it has to do with the vibrant colour or the fact that they always livened up a plate of dull coloured curry with their freshness. So Kale has definitely made its way into my kitchen and it’s here to stay. Plus the added advantage of knowing that you are putting something good in your body is always a plus.

This is a really simple recipe and you cook the ‘Dal’ separately first and then add the sautéed ‘kale masala mix’ to it. I use a pressure cooker to cook the dal in, but, if you don’t have that you can use a heavy bottomed pan and cook it for 45-60mins until it’s done. I finished it off by tempering it with garlic and dried red chilli in ‘ghee’ or clarified butter. If you don’t have ‘ghee’ use unsalted butter but don’t use regular oil, as it won’t give you the flavour. Yes I do believe in the age old saying ‘butter makes everything better’. Run an extra mile the next day but try and not skip on the ‘ghee’.

Serve this dal with steamed rice or rotis, or simply on its own with a side salad!

Kale Dal Fry

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 45mins
  • Difficulty: “easy”
  • Print


  • 1 cup yellow (arhar or toor dal) lentils washed  and soaked for 30mins
  • 2.5-3cups water
  • 1tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 bunch of Kale leaves roughly torn off discarding the tough stems
  • 1tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2-3 Green chillies chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Tempering
    • 1-2 tbsp Ghee or unsalted butter
    • 2-4 dried red chilli
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1 big clove of garlic cut into strips


  1. Add the soaked dal and water to the pressure cooker. Season it with turmeric powder and salt to taste. Put the lid on and cook it for 8-10 whistles or until the dal is cooked. You can check the doneness of the dal by squishing it between your fingers. If it mashes easily its done.
  2. In a separate pan heat the oil and add the cumin seeds.
  3. Add the chopped onion and fry them till they turn translucent. Add the ginger-garlic paste and chopped green chillies.
  4. Add all the dry masalas of red chilli powder, coriander powder, and garam masala. Add salt to taste and fry the masala till the raw smell goes away. This should take 3-5mins.
  5. Finally add the chopped kale leaves to the pan and mix it with the masala. Sauté the leaves till they are slightly wilted and cooked through. They will turn bright green in color.
  6. Heat the cooked dal over low flame and add the kale masala mix to it. Mix it gently together.  Let it simmer for 5minutes and turn the heat off.
  7. Get a small tempering pan on medium high heat and add the ghee to it. Once melted and heated add the sliced garlic. Fry till it starts to turn golden.
  8. Add the the cumin seeds and when they start sputtering add the dried chillies. Take it off the heat. The residual heat of the tempering will fry the chillies off and prevent them from turning black and bitter.
  9. Pour the tempering on top of the dal and put the lid back on to infuse the flavours
  10. Serve it immediately and enjoy with steamed rice!


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