Bottlegourd and Spinach Dal

I love bottlegourd and dal, so simple and satisfying. Nothing overwhelming, the ultimate comfort food with a bit of hot rice and a dollop of ghee on top. What else do you need in life? A good meal, good company, rainy weather, warm house. Bliss.
You’ll need:
To cook in a pressure cooker until soft:
  • 1 bottlegourd – peeled, remove the inside pulp and cut into small pieces
  • ¾ cup toor dal
  • 2 garlic cloves – peeled
  • 2 green chillies – slit into 2
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon roasted red chilli powder
For Tempering:
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3 dried red chillies – broken in half
  • ¼ teaspoon hing
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • Oil
To finish:
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon roasted pepper and fenugreek powder
  • ¼ teaspoon roasted pepper and cumin powder
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ Lemon juice (optional – I like my dal a little tart)
  • 1 teaspoon ghee


Once the dal and bottlegourd has cooked in the pressure cooker, mash up the mixture lightly with the back of a spatula. In a pan, heat oil, add mustard seeds. Once mustard seeds start to splatter, add all the other ingredients and stir well. Add this mix to the dal mixture. Bring the dal mixture to the boil, add finishing ingredients (except spinach), and taste. You may need to tweak the flavours a little. You’re looking for a balanced earth flavour, with a little bit of sourness to lift the dish. Add spinach last, and take the pot off the heat. You want the spinach to just wilt into the dal, no need to cook as the leaves are very tender. Enjoy!

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