paalakura pappu

Paalakura Pappu | Paalak Ki Daal | Lentils With Spinach

Introduction To Paalakura Pappu:

Paalakura pappu is an Andhra lentil/daal preparation made with lentils, spinach and South Indian tempering. Paalakura pappu, cooked in the Andhra style, qualifies as a very popular pappu/daal in the typical Andhra meal, served in restaurants or even weddings and social functions.

Spinach – The Green Leafy Vegetable:

Image By Thilo Becker From Pixabay

From the greens family, palak/spinach obviously is the most popular all over the world and can be consumed in a variety of ways. This green leafy vegetable is considered a superfood as it is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants.

Origin And History Of Spinach:

Spinach is considered native to ancient Persia (central and Western Asia). From there it migrated to India and then China in the 7th century. It was brought to Sicily by the Arabs in the 9th century, to the Meditteranean region by the 10th century, to Germany in the 13th century and to France and England by the 16th century. Spinach made its way to America when the first settlers arrived.

Story Of Spinach:

When you think spinach, you think Popeye! So, in my teenage years, our generation would associate spinach with the popular animated character, Popeye! Popeye, with his odd accent and improbable forearms, used spinach to great effect. It gave him strength and perhaps his distinctive speaking style.


But did you know the story behind Popeye’s obsession with spinach? Well, back in 1870, Erich Von Wolf, a German chemist, examined the amount of iron within spinach, among other leafy vegetables. In recording his findings, Von Wolf accidentally replaced a decimal point, changing the iron content in spinach by an order of magnitude. It was recorded and accepted that the iron content in spinach was 35mgms per 100 gm serving, while it was actually 3.5mgms. This nutritional value became legendary. So when Popeye was created, studio executives recommended he eat spinach for his strength. Apparently, Popeye helped increase American consumption of spinach by a third! This error eventually got corrected in 1937 but this story got coined as ‘Popeye mythology’ which taught us about how errors spread. [The true science of Spinach and What the Popeye Mythology Teaches Us about How Error Spreads, by Maria Popova –]

Nutritional Benefits Of Spinach:

So, while this beautiful leafy green won’t cause your biceps to inflate like balloons, it is dense in vitamins and minerals, low in calories and versatile in cooking. It is beneficial for maintaining healthy skin, hair and strong bones as well as helping in digestion, lowering the risk for heart disease, and improving blood glucose control in diabetics, one of the best sources of dietary potassium and magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, copper, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, vitamin C, zinc, dietary fiber, phosphorous, vitamin B1 and chlorine, contains a unique and beneficial mixture of phytonutrients, as well as antioxidants, flavonoids and carotenoids. It benefits people suffering from anemia, cancer, asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, good for healthy hair and skin, and healthy eyes.  Phew! Isn’t that a lot? Why would anybody sensible choose to ignore the benefits of spinach as opposed to their taste buds?

paalakura pappu

Paalakura Pappu – Recipe

Paalakura Pappu Ingredients:

  • Tuvar daal/Arhar daal/Kandi pappu or Moong daal/ Pesarapappu – 1 cup
  • Spinach leaves (palak) – 1 cup (chopped)
  • Green chillies – 2-3 (slit lengthwise)
  • Turmeric powder/Haldi/Pasupu – ½ tsp
  • Red chilli powder – ½ tsp
  • Water – 2 cups
  • Salt to taste

For  Tempering/Tadka/Popu:

  • Ghee – 1 tbsp ( optional)
  • Mustard seeds/Rai/Aavalu – 1tsp
  • Cumin seed/Jeera/Jeelakarra – 1 tsp
  • Urad daal – 1tsp
  • Chana daal – ½ tsp
  • Curry leaves
  • Asafoetida – a pinch
  • Tamarind extract – 2 tbsps

How To Make Paalak Pappu:

  • First pressure cook the spinach/paalak and the daal. Add a pinch of turmeric to the daal and give it 3 whistles. Remove from the cooker and keep it aside.
paalak pappu
  • Heat oil in a pan and add chana daal, urad daal and rai and once rai starts to splutter, add jeera, hing, green chillies and curry leaves. If you are adding garlic, add it at this point.
paalak pappu popu
  • Once the tempering is done, add the cooked spinach, red chilli powder and salt and mix well.
paalakura pappu
  • Add the tamarind extract and let it cook for a minute.
paalakura pappu
  • Now combine the cooked daal as well and give the entire thing a good mix.
Palak Pappu
  • Add water to adjust to the consistency you prefer, bring it to a boil and turn off the gas once it is done.
paalak pappu
  • Serve deliciously hot paalak pappu with steaming hot rice and ghee and combine with any fry. Popular combinations are chaamadumpa or aratikai fry.  
paalak pappu

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