Fresh Fava & Spinach Dal
45 Min

Fresh Fava & Spinach Dal

Nothing satisfies in cooler weather quite like dal, the quintessential aromatic spice-laden lentil stew of India. Dal transforms in flavor and add-ons based not just on availability but on region, family traditions and personal preferences. Some will add vegetables, some coconut, some tomatoes — some people even add chunks of meat. Dal can be made with lentils, split peas, whole dried beans or fresh beans.


Last week at the newly renovated Houston Farmers Market on Airline Drive, I spotted bags of fresh fava beans, out of sync with their normal spring season. Fava beans are one of the oldest cultivated plants, with evidence of their existence going back to 6000 B.C. A soft yet hearty bean, the favas made a delicious base for dal. You could also use black-eyed peas for the new year.

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Cook Time

45 Minutes



Step 1
In a pot of salted boiling water, blanch the beans for 2 to 4 minutes. Drain and let them cool. Peel off and discard the skins of the beans.
Step 2
To make the dal: In a stockpot over high heat, warm the olive oil and pop the cumin seeds. Add the onion and cook on medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, cook for a few more seconds, then add the blanched fava beans, 1 1/2 cups of water, and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Step 3
Add the coconut milk, ginger and serrano, and continue cooking until the beans are soft, cooked through, and almost disintegrated. Stir in the spinach and cilantro and turn off the heat.
Step 4
Just before serving, heat the remaining olive oil. Pop the mustard seeds and fry the kari leaves. Stir into the dal just before serving. Serve with warm rice with a squeeze of lime juice.


1 pound fresh shelled fava beans

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cup minced onions

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon sea salt

14 ounces coconut milk

1 tablespoon ginger purée

1 serrano pepper, minced

6 cups chopped spinach leaves

1/2 bunch cilantro


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons black mustard seeds 

2 stalks kari (curry) leaves

Notes & Variations

  • This dal can be made with any other dry beans, such as black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, or pinto beans. Remember to soak the dried beans overnight — this will speed up the cooking process.
  • For a heartier version, replace the olive oil with ghee and the coconut milk with heavy cream.
45 Min

Coconut milk in your food?

It's more common than you think (& so so tasty.) Try these other dishes if you're a fan!