Function style Palakura Pappu recipe | Spinach Dal in a New way

Palakura Pappu recipe is a very simple yet delicious South Indian dal recipe made with lentils and fresh spinach and aromatic spices.

A South Indian meal is considered incomplete unless it is accompanied by pappu. I’ve already shared a few dal recipes – Tomato Pappu, Sambar

At home, dal is an integral part of our diet and we eat dal pretty much every other day.

Today I’m sharing one more pappu recipe made with spinach. The delightful combination of flavors in this dal jazzes up any meal.

palakura pappu recipe

What is Palakura Pappu?

Palakura (in Telugu) translates to Spinach and pappu translates to cooked lentils. Spinach is one of the most relished green leafy vegetables in Andhra cuisine.

Dal/pappu is not a mere dish for Telugu-speaking people. They have an emotional bonding with dal.

Palak Pappu is one of the most popular lentils dishes and finds its place in a menu of everyday meals, any special occasion, buffet for lunch, brunch, or dinner in restaurants, Andhra thali (Bhojanam), and a la carte menu in Andhra restaurants.

Pappu is also a common dish in South Indian weddings or functions. It is something all kinds of age groups indulge in.

About Palakura Pappu recipe

Function style Palakura Pappu recipe is easy, unique, and special. This recipe is slightly different than the home version.

At home, all the ingredients along with the dal are added to the pressure cooker and cooked until they are done. I grew up eating this version of spinach dal.

What makes this function-style palakura pappu recipe stand out is the cooking process and a few special ingredients. The small changes in this recipe make the dal tastier.

This palakura pappu recipe calls for cooking the lentils and spinach separately. It may sound like an additional step, but this is what intensifies the essence and results in a distinct flavor.

The spice in this dal is from green chilies. Red chili powder is not added as it will change the color of the dal.

Most caterers do not add tomatoes in palak pappu. Instead, the tanginess is from tamarind. Adding tamarind brightens up the entire dish and adds another dimension of flavor. It also tames down the spice a bit.

To begin with cook the dal thoroughly until soft and mushy. I cook the dal in a pressure cooker. The dal can be cooked in an InstaPot, or in a pan over the cooktop.

Reasons to make

One of the easiest ways to include leafy vegetables in your diet.

Goes down well with toddlers/kids.

Palak and dal make the dish nutritious.

The dish is loaded with South Indian flavors.

Requires only a few basic ingredients and spices.

Is nut-free and soy free.

To make it vegan, skip ghee.

Perfect for lunch or dinner on busy weekdays or weekends.

Spinach and lentils are a very good sources of iron, carbohydrates, vitamins (A, C, K, 12), calcium, and magnesium.

Spinach is loaded with antioxidants, helps to lower blood pressure, improves asthma problems, and makes bones stronger.

spinach dal south indian recipe

Pro Tips

There is no specific ratio of lentils and spinach leaves. You can add more or fewer spinach leaves as per your liking.

I’ve used a medium-spicy variety of green chilies so the pappu is not spicy. However, you can increase or decrease the number of green chilies to suit your preferred spice levels.

Add the aromatic spices to hot oil. When tempered in hot oil, they release their essential oils and aroma. This makes the dish a lot more flavorful.

I’ve not used tomatoes in this recipe. You can use them if you like and decrease the quantity of tamarind.

How to extract tamarind pulp: Soak tamarind in hot water for 10-15 minutes. When the water cools down a bit, rub between your fingers and remove the seeds and fibers. Strain the mixture using a sieve and rub the pulp with a spoon against the sieve. Discard the fibers and hard shell.

The tanginess of tamarind depends on its quality. If you are a beginner, add half of the tamarind pulp and later add more, if needed. Do cook tamarind until the raw flavor goes away.

Keep the Andhra dal light on the spices. Do not overpower the flavors of the lentils and the spinach.

Simmer the dal patiently on low flame, and stir at regular intervals.

This dal is thick in consistency. But feel free to adjust the consistency as per your preference. 

Check the taste for salt and sour before switching off the flame and adjust according to your taste.

Ingredients

Lentils: The dal or lentil used to make pappu is toor dal or arhar dal also known as pigeon pea lentils. You can prepare with a combo of lentils.

Spinach leaves: I’ve used regular palak in this recipe. You can use baby spinach or frozen chopped spinach as well. Thaw frozen spinach as per instructions on the packet and use it.

Aromatics and Spice: I’ve used a paste of fresh ginger, garlic, and green chilies. I recommend using fresh ingredients, instead of store-bought. Since this pappu is mildly spiced, using fresh ingredients will make a remarkable difference.

Spice powders: coriander powder and sambar masala.

Tamarind: In South Indian cuisine, tamarind plays a key role. The tanginess of the tamarind adds a bright flavor to the pappu.

Seasonings & Herbs: fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, green chilies, onion, turmeric powder, dried red chilies, salt, and coriander leaves.

Cooking fat: I’ve used a combination of oil and clarified butter (ghee).

How to make Function style Palakura Pappu

Soak tamarind in hot water for 10-15 minutes, extract tamarind water and discard the seeds and fibers. 

Steps to cook dal

1. Rinse 1/2 cup of lentils with water until the water runs clear. Transfer the drained dal to the pressure cooker.

2. Add 1.5 cups of water, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, and 1 tsp oil. Give a good mix.

3. Pressure cook the dal on high flame for 3-4 whistles. Turn off the flame and set it aside.

4. Once the cooker depressurizes, open the lid and mash the dal with a wired whisk or the back of the ladle for a smooth consistency.

palakura pappu recipe step 1

Steps to make Palak Pappu

1. Chop the palak leaves and wash them under running water with 2 to 3 exchanges of water. Keep aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan or heavy bottom kadhai.

3. When hot, add cumin seeds, mustard, and fenugreek seeds.

palakura pappu recipe step 2

4. Add dry red chilies and curry leaves. Saute till leaves turn crisp.

5. Add roughly sliced onions and green chilies. Saute until they turn soft.

6. Add turmeric powder and paste of ginger, garlic, and green chilies.

palakura pappu recipe step 3

7. Add the palak leaves and saute.

8. Spinach leaves release a lot of water as it cooks.  

9. Stirring occasionally, cook until leaves have wilted and are tender.

10. Add the tamarind pulp and give a good mix.

palakura pappu recipe step 4

11. Add the mashed dal and 1 cup of water. Give a good mix and simmer the pappu for 15 minutes or until the dal reaches the desired consistency.

12. Add salt and mix.

palakura pappu recipe step 5

13. Add coriander powder and sambar masala.

14. Check the taste for salt and sour. Add more if needed.

15. Add 1 tbsp ghee and mix well.

palakura pappu recipe step 6

16. Lastly, add coriander leaves and give a final mix.

17. Function style Palakura Pappu is ready. Serve it with hot rice.

palakura pappu recipe step 7

Serving Suggestions

Serve palakura pappu with a steaming bowl of rice (short-grain) and a generous drizzle of ghee. For me, it is one of the ultimate comfort foods.

You can also serve it as a side dish with flatbread such as plain parathas, rotis, or chapatis.

andhra style palakura pappu

Storage Suggestions

You can store the cooked spinach dal in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Transfer the dal to an air-tight container and refrigerate it.

Before serving, reheat the dal in a microwave or in a pan on the stovetop. The consistency of the dal will thicken, so add water while reheating and adjust the consistency as desired.

Variations

Tempering/Tadka at the end: Heat oil or ghee in a small pan. Once hot, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, dry red chilies, chopped garlic cloves, and asafoetida. Pour this over the cooked pappu.

In the tadka, you can replace dry red chilies with curd chilies (majiga mirapakayalu). They add a different flavor and crunch to the dal.

Can substitute green chilies with red chili powder.

More Palak Recipes

Palak Paneer

Spinach Moong Dal Fry

If you’ve tried this Function style Palakura Pappu recipe, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! Feedback and suggestions are highly appreciated. Also, please share the recipes with your friends and family members.

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Recipe Card

palakura pappu recipe

Function style Palakura Pappu recipe | Spinach Dal in a new way

Author: Santosh Allada
Palakura Pappu recipe is a traditional dal recipe from Andhra cuisine. Pair it with steamed rice and ghee for a delicious, wholesome, and comforting meal!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Dal, Main Course
Cuisine Andhra, South Indian
Servings 3 people

Ingredients
  

For Dal

  • 1/2 cup Pigeon pea lentils (toor dal)
  • 1.5 cups Water
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Oil

For Palakura Pappu

  • 1 cup Spinach leaves (chopped)
  • 3-4 tbsp Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 2 numbers Dry red chilies (broken)
  • 1 sprig Curry leaves
  • 1 small Onion (roughly sliced)
  • 2 numbers Green chilies
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 3-4 numbers Green chilies
  • 1 inch Ginger
  • 3-4 cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 cup Tamarind (soak in hot water)
  • 1 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp Sambar masala
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 tbsp Clarified butter (ghee)
  • 2-3 tbsp Coriander leaves (chopped)
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

To cook the Dal

  • Rinse 1/2 cup of lentils with water until the water runs clear. Transfer the drained dal to the pressure cooker.
  • Add 1.5 cups of water, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, and 1 tsp oil. Give a good mix.
  • Pressure cook the dal on high flame for 3-4 whistles. Turn off the flame and set it aside.
  • Once the cooker depressurizes, open the lid and mash the dal with a wired whisk or the back of the ladle for a smooth consistency.

To make Palakura Pappu

  • Soak tamarind in hot water for 10-15 minutes, extract tamarind water and discard the seeds and fibers. 
  • Chop the palak leaves and wash them under running water with 2 to 3 exchanges of water. Keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan or heavy bottom kadhai.
  • When hot, add cumin seeds, mustard, and fenugreek seeds.
  • Add dry red chilies and curry leaves. Saute till leaves turn crisp.
  • Add roughly sliced onions and green chilies. Saute until the onions turn soft.
  • Add turmeric powder and paste of ginger, garlic, and green chilies.
  • Add the palak leaves and saute. Spinach leaves release a lot of water as it cooks.  
  • Stirring occasionally, cook until leaves have wilted and are tender.
  • Add the tamarind pulp and give a good mix.
  • Add the mashed dal and 1 cup of water. Give a good mix and simmer the pappu for 15 minutes or until the dal reaches the desired consistency.
  • Add salt, coriander powder, and sambar masala. Mix well.
  • Check the taste for salt and sour. Add more if needed.
  • Add 1 tbspn ghee and mix well. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Lastly, add coriander leaves and give a final mix.
  • Function style Palakura Pappu is ready. Serve it with hot rice.

Notes

Onion and garlic can be skipped while preparing palak pappu.
Add more or less green chilies to suit your preferred spice levels.
Can add tadka at the end. We love this pappu as it is and I do not add extra tadka.
Do not skip adding clarified butter/ghee for authentic flavor. 


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