Palakoora Pappu (Spicy Yellow Lentils with Spinach)

Palakoora Pappu (Spicy Yellow Lentils with Spinach)

For me Andhra meals is incomplete without Palakoora pappu. It is a spicy (sometimes not) preparation of lentils with spinach. Lentils and spinach are cooked with tamarind paste and green chillies and tempered with garlic and other spices. Hot rice, a dollop of ghee and lots of pappu and some pickle are sure combination to make you over eat.

Since it is the mango season and I love cooking with raw mango, this recipe includes raw mango instead of tamarind paste. The quantity of raw mango or even tamarind paste depends on the sourness of the mango/tamarind and taste as well. As with other recipes, it helps to soak the dal for 15-20 minutes before cooking. Of course, there are hundreds of recipes for pappu and this is my version of the healthy south Indian dal. I can’t say it is authentic or traditional but this is how I make it and it is a hit with my siblings and friends.

Crushing the garlic and tearing and lightly crushing the fresh curry leaves between your palms just before adding them to hot oil will add a lot more to the flavour. Some people add tomatoes and onions also to the tempering. You can taste the cooked dal and add more green chillies to the tempering if the pappu is not spicy enough. This tastes best with plain rice and a dollop of ghee.

Palakoora Pappu (Spicy Yellow Lentils with Spinach)


Serves 2-3

For Pappu

  • 1 cup split pigeon peas (toor dal) washed and soaked for 15-20 mins
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 inch piece of ginger grated
  • 4 green chillies slit
  • ½ cup spinach chopped
  • 1 raw mango chopped (substitute with 4-5 tbsp tamarind pulp if not using raw mango)
  • 2 ½ cup water
  • Salt to taste

For the Tadka

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 10-12 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2-3 dry red chillies
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 10-15 fresh curry leaves
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida


Put all the ingredients for dal in a pressure cooker and cook for 3-4 whistles or till the dal is cooked enough to be mashed with back of a spoon.

Heat oil in a kadhai or a heavy bottomed pan. Add the mustard seeds. Once the seeds pop, add curry leaves and dry red chillies and sauté. Add crushed garlic and cook for one minute. Add turmeric and asafoetida and cook for 20-30 seconds. Pour this hot tempering over the cooked dal and mix well. Cook the dal without lid on slow flame for 3-4 minutes. You can add little water, if the consistency is too thick.

Serve with hot rice and pickle.

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