Live To Eat

Sleep ’til you’re hungry, eat ’til you’re sleepy!

  • Connect!

  • Sponsors

  • Subscribe!

    Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content..

    Privacy guaranteed. We'll never share your info.
  • Recent Posts

    Rest of Chicago
    A fabulous dinner at Willows Inn on Lummi Island
    Mutton Korma – Braised Goat in a Green Coconut Curry
    Parsi Mutton Biryani – Step by Step Recipe
    Spicy Rack of Lamb with Arugula Grapefruit Salad
    Huevos Rotos (Broken Eggs) and a Call to Action
    Parippu Vada (Deep fried Lentil Fritters)
    HDR Wednesday – Stormy Sunset
    Restaurant Review – Altura
    Spicy Pompano – Kerala Style Fried Fish
  • Categories

  • Spinach and Potatoes in a Mung Daal-Coconut Gravy

    Posted on | October 6, 2008 | 43 Comments |

    I ran into an old friend a couple of weeks ago. We were meeting after quite a long time. After the initial pleasantries were exchanged, she asked me a question that shocked me a bit. Don’t you cook any normal food anymore? I wasn’t quite sure what she meant by that, so I asked her to define “normal food”. Her definition was – stuff I can cook for a weekday dinner. According to her, lately I’ve been only posting party dishes.  I didn’t really agree with this analysis, since all that I’ve been posting lately were weekday dinner for two type of dishes. I guess normal is such a relative term anyway, so we parted after I promised her some normal recipes, though I didn’t have any ideas at the time.

    After mulling over what she said for a while, I kind of understood what she meant by normal food. When we were young, my mom always used to make a vegetable “gravy” to go with rice and other more prominent sides. Those curries (for lack of a better term) were considered the “extras”, you know like the supporting cast. They never get the limelight, but you can’t make a movie without them. I think what my friend was talking about were such dishes, the everyday dishes that you just assume everyone knows how to make, but I remember a time when I had to look up such recipes. These days I don’t make such dishes that often, since our meals are really an amalgamation of various cuisines. I checked my drafts and found that I have a few so called “normal recipes” which never made it out here for various reasons. So I have decided to have a Veg Gravy Week here on Live To Eat. Next few posts are going to be everyday gravies that you can have with rice and a quick side for a weekday meal. I must warn you that all these dishes are coconut based, I am a mallu after all. But the three gravies I have in draft all use different forms of it – coconut milk, fresh coconut and roasted coconut.

    The first dish I have here is probably the easiest of the lot. I am not a big fan of plain daal, so I always add coconut milk to it. The measures below are just guesstimates, since you can vary the amount of veggies and spice and coconut milk according to your taste. This is a light creamy gravy which is not too spicy and goes well with rice. I love this with papadams and a spicy pickle.


    • 3/4 cup mung daal
    • 1 cup light coconut milk
    • 2 green chilies split
    • 3 cups packed baby spinach
    • 1 cup potatoes – peeled and cubed
    • ½ tsp mustard seeds
    • ¼  tsp cumin seeds
    • ¼ cup thinly sliced shallots
    • 1 tbsp sliced garlic
    • A few curry leaves
    • ½ tsp cumin powder
    • ½ tsp red chili powder
    • Salt to taste
    • 1 tbsp oil


    Cook mung daal in a pressure cooker or in a regular saucepan with enough water to cover. Once the daal is soft, mash it well with the back of a spoon to form a thick creamy liquid.

    Boil the potatoes in the microwave or stove top till the potatoes are tender.

    Heat the oil in a large pan, and add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to splutter, add the cumin seeds. After just a few seconds, add the curry leaves, shallots and garlic and sauté till the shallots are soft. Reduce the heat and add the cumin and chili powder. Cook for a couple of minutes stirring continuously till the spice paste just starts to brown, making sure not to burn these.

    Add the cooked potatoes and the slit green chilies and sauté till the potatoes are completely coated with the spices. Add the coconut milk and cook on medium heat for about 5-6 minutes till the coconut milk is heated through, but not boiling.

    Add the cooked daal, salt and ½ a cup of hot water to the pan and mix well to combine. Add the baby spinach leaves and cover and cook on medium heat for 5-6 more minutes.

    Serve with rice or rotis. If served with rice, I really recommend papadams, it is a great combo.

    I have been missing all the events lately, so I am overjoyed to send this one over to Sra who is hosting the fourth installment of My Legume Love Affair. This is an event started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. Knowing Sra, the strictest hostess in town, I am keeping my fingers crossed that this one qualifies, I didn’t bother reading all the fine print. :)

    Category: Greens, India - Kerala, Lentils and Legumes, Potato, Side Dish - Gravy, Vegetarian

    Privacy guaranteed. We'll never share your info.

    More like this

    Spicy Rack of Lamb with Arugula Grapefruit Salad

    Spicy Rack of Lamb with Arugula Grapefruit Salad

    February 15th, 2012

    Another Valentine's Day has come and gone! It is pretty much like any other day, except for the [...]

    Brunch – Swiss Chard Frittata

    Brunch - Swiss Chard Frittata

    August 27th, 2011

    I know it is not much to look at, but trust me it is one tasty brunch. I wasn't really planning [...]

    Mutton Curry in a Ground Chickpea and Coconut Gravy

    Mutton Curry in a Ground Chickpea and Coconut Gravy

    February 27th, 2011

    This is one of those recipes that was conceived quite by accident. All I wanted was a quick mutton[...]

    Roasted Zucchini Salad with a Dill-Garlic-Mayo Dressing

    Roasted Zucchini Salad with a Dill-Garlic-Mayo Dressing

    September 24th, 2010

    Zucchini is a vegetable that I don’t have strong feelings about, neither a fan, nor a hater. Bu[...]

    Spicy Eggplant Raita

    Spicy Eggplant Raita

    September 22nd, 2010

    Anybody who has had any kind of exposure to Indian cuisine must be familiar with the term Raita. R[...]


    43 Responses to “Spinach and Potatoes in a Mung Daal-Coconut Gravy”

    1. arundati
      October 7th, 2008 @ 12:16 am

      i’ve never had any kind of lentil dish with coconut milk added…..and knowing my love for coconut milk…this is a must try…am sure the subtle flavours will be fab!!

    2. Raaga
      October 7th, 2008 @ 12:35 am

      Your La Coppera collection looks very beautiful :-)

      And I know… people ask me that a lot… “don’t you eat normal food” :-)

      I must try this gravy dish.

    3. Sra
      October 7th, 2008 @ 1:31 am

      I made a moong dal-coconut milk combination once, from some Kerala cookbook probably – the damn thing rotted after just one day in the fridge. Dunno what went wrong! Yours looks as mild as it’s meant to be and love the ethnic touch with the coppery containers.

      And yeah, send me the details and the photo or I may be forced to be “strictest hostess” again! :grin: :mrgreen:
      Actually, there’s no hurry, I couldn’t resist that crack!

    4. revathi
      October 7th, 2008 @ 1:41 am

      Wow such traditional utensils in your chiccc kitchen !!!

    5. Nags
      October 7th, 2008 @ 1:58 am

      lovely pic! this is definitely not a recipe that i am much used to. but definitely want to try it :)

    6. sumarajesh
      October 7th, 2008 @ 2:27 am

      sig..this is healhty and my fav too..luved the bowl too…nice click :smile:

    7. Nirmala
      October 7th, 2008 @ 2:33 am

      My favorite combo spinach-coconut milk. We used to make it with Toordal minus chilli powder and its absolute comfort food with a pickle on the side with piping ot rice! That bowl looks fabulous and now I see how u make “normal food” look like extra ordinary with these kind of props :wink:

    8. Happy Cook
      October 7th, 2008 @ 2:46 am

      I love daal with coconut milk.
      You are fully truw in saying that these dishes are extras.

    9. Sia
      October 7th, 2008 @ 3:28 am

      i too get same kind of questions from my friends. i just smile and say what ever i cook is normal enough ;) but yeah, for many normal food is comfort food as in some day to day side dish our mother’s used to make. simple rasam, usual sambar, plain dal etc, u get the drift.
      and i too add coconut milk in my dal from time to time. it just enhances the flavours, IMHO. beautiful pic sig. i too have small collection of copper pots and pans and i adore them :)
      e-mail is on ur way…

    10. jayasree
      October 7th, 2008 @ 3:54 am

      I have tated dal with coconut milk and liked it. But never tried it at home. Your post is tempting me to try it soon. My eyes are on the vessels.

    11. Lakshmi
      October 7th, 2008 @ 4:11 am

      hearing about this for first time..but looks :drool:

    12. Priya
      October 7th, 2008 @ 4:11 am

      Awesome clicks…lovely vessels..this gravy is really new to me…mouthwatering..

    13. Shreya
      October 7th, 2008 @ 4:18 am

      Hi, never heard of coconut milk being used. Should deinitely try this. Love anything with spinach and potatoes, coconut milk must blend well with the moong dal gravy, your recipe is just perfect:-)

    14. sunita
      October 7th, 2008 @ 4:55 am

      Dal+ coconut milk :???: Now that sounds very interesting :smile: will give it a try.

    15. Laavanya
      October 7th, 2008 @ 6:09 am

      That sounds mild, creamy & delicious. Love your copper pots.

    16. indosungod
      October 7th, 2008 @ 8:22 am

      Sig, the “normal food” looks fabulous dressed up like that :) I add coconut paste but not coconut milk to moong dal. This is a totally new way of cooking it.

    17. priyanka
      October 7th, 2008 @ 9:45 am

      Droolworthy pic…..seems like you are back in the blogging mode :party: and the idea of having a veg dish once a week on ur blog means i get to try more of your recipes :smile:

    18. richa
      October 7th, 2008 @ 11:01 am

      yoohoo, it’s veg gravy time :drool:
      that is a fantastic gravy, sig! liked the addn of coconut milk, no grinding :wink: the pots r sooo cute!!!

    19. anudivya
      October 7th, 2008 @ 11:01 am

      I like that you have Seattle restaurant reviews… will check on your blog for my next one.

    20. Mishmash!
      October 7th, 2008 @ 11:15 am

      “…considered the “extras”, you know like the supporting cast. They never get the limelight, but you can’t make a movie without them.”…It is sheer coincidence that i used the same analogy just a couple days back while writing an article for a guest post….hmm..great minds think alike or is it the mallu minds ?:)

      enjoyed the setting of the dish with all that copper pots….for a simple dal,i add a couple tbsp coconut milk, pacha velichenna and curry leaves as seasoning, I would say…try next time…i just love that dish :)

    21. Gini
      October 7th, 2008 @ 12:39 pm

      I love the pic. Where did u get those utensils?

    22. Srivalli
      October 7th, 2008 @ 12:50 pm

      That sure is a lovely one sig… :( Beer):

    23. Hélène
      October 7th, 2008 @ 1:13 pm

      I just discovered your blog and love it already. I’ll be following your updates on Google Reader. Lovely post & great pictures.

    24. Divya Vikram
      October 7th, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

      Dhall and coconut milk..Diff combo..Looks pretty..

    25. musical
      October 7th, 2008 @ 2:35 pm

      Love it, love it, love it! I am big on coconut milk based gravies too! Spinach+daal+coconut+green chillies, now that’s a sure comfort food.

      Normal food :) . Yeah, haven’t been cooking much of that lately :-D .

    26. Manasi
      October 7th, 2008 @ 7:24 pm

      Normal food , after a long spell!
      coconut milk in daal!!! :shock: who would have thunk!!?
      Those copper pots are to die for!!! Super pic !!!

    27. Su
      October 8th, 2008 @ 1:05 am

      Normal but such comfort food, especially since we’re welcoming rains back in Seattle!!!!

    28. Meeta
      October 8th, 2008 @ 6:08 am

      Lentils with coconut is my new discovery. Last month I made a lovely lentil dish with coconut milk and it added so much wonderful flavor! I like that you also add potato and spinach.

    29. Bhawana
      October 8th, 2008 @ 8:08 am

      Hi Sig, This is very good and a bit new to me. We make this kind of dal without potatos & coconut milk. I am making this today evvening for dinner :) .

    30. rina
      October 8th, 2008 @ 11:32 am

      Cool copperware yaar!!!! Nice weekday combo. Love to try this.

    31. shilpa
      October 8th, 2008 @ 4:04 pm

      Thats such a beautiful picture Sig. It looks like comfort food. I love such simple gravies, with rice, papad and pickles :) .

    32. Shantanu
      October 9th, 2008 @ 9:47 am

      Ha, ha! I guess there is an Indian filter you need to use to understand the use of terms such as ‘normal food’. I can completely understand what she meant, because we use this so often to mean, “food we traditionally cook on an everyday basis at home”; the focus being both on ‘traditional’ and ‘every-day’. :)

    33. Mike
      October 9th, 2008 @ 4:15 pm

      lol, I know just what you mean about the “normal food” comment. I just did a simple steak dinner this weekend since I needed something quick and when my I was asked what I did for dinner that night, the other person was shocked that I wasn’t doing something “weird.” I guess its all relative.

      As for this dish, I really like what you put together. It sounds delicious and I love the plated photo (much more exciting than my usual bare and white plates)!

    34. Uma
      October 9th, 2008 @ 5:50 pm

      :drool: :drool: :drool:

      A delicious recipe and beautiful copper pots.

    35. varsha
      October 9th, 2008 @ 9:03 pm

      Thats a gud decision u made,Sig :smile: ..This dish tastes heaven with pappadam.I usually make this minus potatoes..and ur dishes..oh..u bot it from kerala???

    36. Yasmeen
      October 9th, 2008 @ 9:07 pm

      Thats simple Indian comfort food .Love those copper utensils :smile:

    37. nandita
      October 11th, 2008 @ 1:52 am

      Love the pots…and the lentil-coconut milk is a Srilankan combo i guess…yet to try it out..
      Where did you buy the copper collection?

    38. sig
      October 12th, 2008 @ 10:49 pm

      Thanks everyone! I never realized that the daal+coconut milk combo is not that “normal” :) If you haven’t tried that, do give it a try… I am glad you all liked my copper dishes, bought these years ago from Madras when I had no intention of ever starting a foodblog. Finally I can put these to good use ;)

    39. Susan from Food Blogga
      October 13th, 2008 @ 6:16 pm

      Ooh, I wish I had a set of those bowls!

    40. rajitha
      October 16th, 2008 @ 1:13 pm

      when i read ‘veg gravy’ per wee…i fell off my chair :mrgreen: …welcome to the other side siggy…

      but jokes apart…love the presentation…but for me the star is the pappadam….yummmmm

    41. rajitha
      October 16th, 2008 @ 1:13 pm

      u know i meant ‘WEEK’

    42. Ramya's Mane Adige
      October 21st, 2008 @ 12:31 pm

      Yaaayyyy!!!!A veggie dish from you after soooo long. :grin: … And I’m soooooo looking fwd to all your veggie dishes! I think you should make this a regular thing….. the veggie week, i mean!! and yes, daal + coconut milk is not a common combo, but sounds very nice. Will try making it for dinner tonight. Will use methi instead of spinach, though!

    43. Maven
      April 1st, 2012 @ 8:50 pm

      I get that a LOT from some friends, “don’t you eat NORMAL food?” Um… what IS normal? Furthermore, life is too short to eat boring bland food! That’s usually my response!