Recipe Share – Spinach Dahl (Indian lentil soup)

Yoga Therapy faculty member, Dr Shaun Matthews, shares his soothing and nourishing recipe for Indian lentil soup, a comforting and satisfying dish for cool weather, but still light and gentle on digestion.

What’s so good about Dahl?

In the ayurvedic tradition, food can not only be healing for the body, but also for the mind and consciousness. Once legumes such as lentils are cooked in a recipe such as dahl, they become highly suitable for anyone, of all body constitutions, and have a lovely sattvic effect, meaning it can bring about qualities such as calmness, mental clarity and balance. Sattvic foods help bolster our ojas (a vital essence aiding immunity, happiness and longevity).

In the western scientific school of thought, dishes such as dahl offer a power-packed infusion of important nutrients, such as protein, fibre and minerals. Legumes such as lentil and mung beans contain high levels of protective polyphenol compounds that have an anti-inflammatory effect, aiding a wide range of conditions and protecting against illness.

The addition of the culinary herbs brings their own powerful contribution to health and wellbeing.

Making Dahl at home – recipe from Dr Shaun Matthews


1 cup mung dahl or red lentils

3-4 cups water

1 teaspoons turmeric powder (which Dr Matthews calls the ‘medicine cabinet in a jar’!)

What is asafoetida?
Lesser known in the western kitchen, it is often used as a substitute for garlic or onion in Indian cooking, and has healing properties. It also makes legumes more digestible. Just best avoided during pregnancy and during Pitta imbalance.

2 tablespoons ghee or favourite oil

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 bunch English spinach, finely chopped

1 pinch asafoetida

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground back pepper

1 green chilli (optional, and strong Pitta constitutions should refrain from using chilli)

1 lemon, juiced

Celtic sea salt

1/2 bunch of fresh coriander leaves, chopped


  1. Wash lentils well, at least 3 times. Add water until soup is as thick as you like it. Bring the mixture to a boil in a large saucepan. Scoop off froth and discard.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of the ghee , ginger, and turmeric powder and simmer over low to medium heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk the mixture to make a smooth, thick soup. Stir in spinach and keep on gentle heat.
  3. Heat the remaining ghee in a small frying pan or spice skillet. Add asafoetida when the ghee is hot, then the mustard seeds until they pop, followed by the cumin and pepper. Carefully pour the mixture directly into the dahl and mix well.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and salt and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Cover and allow to settle for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Recipe reproduced with kind permission from Dr Shaun Matthews, from his book The Art of Balanced Living.  The expertise of Dr Matthews’ 3 decades of Western medicine and Ayurvedic practice underpins this beautiful and easy-read, making the principles of improving one’s own health through ayurvedic lifestyle changes, accessible to anyone.

Dr Matthews is part of our teaching faculty on our 650-hour Yoga Therapy diploma.

Written by Nicole Small, The Yoga Institute

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