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Close up of prepared Tarka Dhal with coriander garnish.
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5 from 8 votes

Tarka Dhal with Spinach (Vegan)

Easy to make, full of flavour, vegan & naturally gluten-free my Tarka Dhal recipe has extra nutrition from added spinach. Quick enough for a midweek meal it can be served as a main or a side dish accompaniment to your weekend curry feast! Wholesome, nutritious and filling too.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine British, fusion, Indian
Keyword tarka dhal
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 327kcal
Author Jo Allison


  • 250 g chana dal (split chickpeas) rinsed well
  • 900 ml water


  • 3-4 tomatoes see notes
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (depending o the size) peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoon rapeseed/olive oil
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • small piece of fresh ginger (11g) peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (heaped) cumin seeds
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1.5 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 100 ml water
  • 100 g fresh baby spinach optional (see notes)
  • large handful of fresh coriander
  • Your favourite Sriracha sauce to serve see notes


  • Start with rinsing your chana dal (split chickpeas) until water runs clear.
  • Put it in the pan with 900ml/4 cups of water, stir it well and put on the medium heat.
  • Bring it boil and make sure to remove as much of the scum that will form on the surface as possible.
  • Lower the heat and simmer partly covered for 30-40 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed and your split peas are tender but not mushy. Set aside.
  • While your split peas are cooking prepare your tarka.
  • Put 2 tablespoon of oil in the large frying pan or shallow casseroled dish and add chopped onion, ginger and cumin seeds.
  • Fry them gently until softened and aromatic 5-7 minutes.
  • Puree tomatoes and garlic together in a food processor or using your hand blender and add to the onion and ginger mixture in a pan following by spices and water. Give everything a good mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Simmer for approx. 10 minutes stirring ocassionally.
  • Add fresh spinach and mix it in until it wilts.
  • Add cooked split chickpeas and give everything a good stir.
  • Add as much chopped fresh coriander/cilantro as you want and enjoy!


  • Nutritional information is approximate, per serving (based on 4 servings) and should be treated as a guideline only.
  • This recipe will yield 4 main servings or 6 servings as a side.
  • The time to prepare the recipe is 50 minutes providing you prepare your tarka as your split chickpeas are cooking. 
  • You can substitute a tin of chopped tomatoes for fresh ones. Make sure you still puree them together with garlic to smooth consistency.
  • Feel free to use frozen spinach instead. Make sure you cook it first as per instructions on the packaging. Drain it well and stir it in at the very end of cooking. 
  • My Tarka Dhal recipe doesn't include any chillies. This is intentional as all our meals are always eaten by my two boys who are not than keen on spicy food. To rectify that I always have my favourite sriracha sauce on hand to add some heat to my and hubby's portions once on our plates! This way everybody's happy!
  • Store in the fridge for 2-3 days.
  • Freezer friendly for up to 3 months. 


Calories: 327kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 51mg | Potassium: 1081mg | Fiber: 19g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 3225IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 105mg | Iron: 5mg