Dal aur Sabzi – Lentil Kale Soup in the Pakistani Manner

lentil kale soup2

We had just returned home to Toronto from our trip to Paris this summer (I know, I know, I still have to share those photos with you in a blog post!). We had inhaled scoop after scoop of salted caramel and pink peach Berthillon flavours and these mounds of cloud-like meringues from Carton near my in-laws’ old residence in Paris. We had savoured a beautifully crisped skin of duck confit at Chez Dumonet, where the  potatoes are fried in duck fat, but of course. And on our way home, we had a box of dark chocolate ganache squares to eat on the plane. Poor Turkish Delight was reaching for the chocolates again and again, but all he had was mother’s milk; no sugar for him at that age.

But in between all the duck fat, sugar and meat gluttony, we missed the simple and wholesome taste of dal; a Pakistani lentil dish. Spiced up if you want, eaten with rice, bread or just on its own with a blob of yoghurt – after a vacati0n on Paris, it was just the ticket for our homecoming dinner.

lentil kale soup

This dish is super easy to make because you probably have all these ingredients in your pantry. When I got back from the airport, I didn’t have any onions, so I omitted them. I used homemade garlic paste I had frozen in ice cube trays (bless you, Miss Masala, for this wonderful tip in your cooking session with Madhur Jaffrey – you all should do it, too) which I plonked in and I always have frozen kale, too. (If you don’t have kale where you live, you can use spinach as a substitute.)

Make some basmati rice and add ladlefuls of this on top. You’ll feel like you are right back home.

My kitchen scale’s batteries died when I was developing this recipe, which is why it is in cups. I shall post it in metric measurements within the next week.

Serves 4 as an appetiser or as a main course with rice or flatbread

*4 cups cold water, and additional hot water for topping up while it simmers
*1 cup red lentils (masoor or Lens culinaris) Here is a link which shows photos of masoor 
*1 tsp cumin powder (zeera powder)
*½ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
*½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (if you like it spicy, add 1 tsp)
*½ medium onion, sliced thin
*1 garlic clove
*¼ cup chopped frozen kale (I use the Whole Foods’ 365 brand, blue curled kale) or ½ cup fresh kale, very finely chopped (you want that “confetti effect”) Substitute for kale – spinach
*Salt to taste (I add 1 tsp, but start with ½)

*Your favourite olive oil (my fave these days)
*Sumac, pul biber (also known as Aleppo pepper) –  both are optional – or you can use red cayenne pepper

*Place a medium-sized heavy bottomed pan (I use this 6 qt stockpot) on high flame and add water, lentils, cumin powder, turmeric powder, red pepper chili flakes, onion slices and garlic clove. When it comes to a boil, turn the flame down to medium
*Cover with lid, but not completely, so as to allow some steam to escape, otherwise the lentils will overflow onto your stovetop
*Allow lentils to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every 5-7 minutes to make sure the lentils are not catching at the bottom of the bottom. You may have to top the lentils up with hot water to loosen it, if it looks too thick. Alternatively, if it looks too thin, allow it to cook down some more
*When the lentils are ready, they will look creamy
*Smoosh the garlic clove with the back of your ladle, it will blend right in
*Add kale and stir gently
*Serve with a trail of your favourite olive oil, scatter some sumac, pul biber (also known as crushed Aleppo pepper) or red cayenne pepper on top
*For a non-vegan version, add a dollop of Greek yoghurt




  1. Dearest Shayma, This is long over due ~ congratulations on this beautiful new blog I love every inch of it! I especially love the video, the imagery and the food! Totally looking forward to viewing many more videos and reading simple and satisfying recipes as the Dal. It reminded me of days when we used to get home from school and our Pakistani neighbor would bring us platefuls, as we played outside with her children. I can still smell and taste it over the basmati topped with dollops of yogurt. Yum! Health to your hands, my dear friend! Ayse

    • Thank you so much – so lovely to see you here. Sharing plates with neighbours is a beautiful ritual, people don’t do it so much anymore, sadly. Here’s to cooking and eating together one day. Big hug, s

  2. We have a very similar daal cooked in India, called daal palak. It looks beautiful. Yes, rice and daal is a comfort food for me even after a three days holiday.

    • Hi Soma, Thank you – we have that dish, too – there is so much shared culinary history between Pakistan and Northern India 🙂 We make this soupy version, but there is also a more dry version, using chana dal. I am sure the dal you make is delicious, especially because the region you come from is known, among other dishes, for its dal. x s

      • Yes, we mainly specialize in the tadkas (we call it phoron). Different simple combinations of spices makes the same daal taste so unique.

  3. I love your website. Those bowls are so pretty, would you mind telling me where they are from.

  4. Such a gorgeous looking soup, Shayma. Can’t wait to try this one!

  5. This soup looks incredibly good, Shayma joon. Lovely photos!

  6. I love dal – so comforting and warming. This looks lovely; I’ve my tried the method of throwing everything in the pot without frying things first, so I’ll be sure to give it a go.

  7. Shayma, such a pretty bowl …and nothing like masoor dal and palak on your first night back home after travelling!
    Poor turkish delight…I feel for him :)….thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Shayma, you make even the humble everyday dal look like a superstar! I do know how divine dal-chawal feels after a long holiday away from home, so completely understand your love for this simple yet flavorful dish. I wish we could find Kale in India… We usually make Spinach with Toor (Arhar) Dal. And the dry channa dal version you mentioned in your comments sounds fantastic too!

  9. wish I had seen this earlier today; I ended up making mujaddara safra, but this would have been more interesting. I realized I dont have you on an RSS feed, that’s the problem! hope motherhood is exhilarating and not too exhausting 🙂

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