Spices and Seasons – Yellow Split Moong Lentils with Spinach, Fennel and Red Pepper Flakes


Yellow Split Moong Lentils with Fennel, Spinach and Red Pepper FlakesThis week’s recipe brings you right on the seasonal lentil bandwagon along with another seasonal ingredient – Fennel. This recipe is for fennel lovers as in this dish, I use fennel in two dimensions – I have used grated fennel in cooking the soupy lentils and then finished this off using a #beatthechills tempering of fennel, ginger and red pepper flakes.  This recipe is essentially a dal, which in Indian parlence can range from anything between thick stew to a thin soup and is accompanied with Indian flatbreads or rice and any variation there off. This recipe is similar to an earlier recipe that I had shared, where I had chatted about tarka or tempering something that is very essential in the Indian kitchen. Not surprisingly, this was shared about the same time a year back, as I always say, this time of the year I love my lentils. The major difference between these two recipes is in the finishing and the addition of the fennel and what a difference a few ingredients makes, as you might have realized it is the tempering that makes a dal. It is also a very flexible recipe, and you can swap fennel with any vegetable of your choice. So, here is to warmer weather and until the chills leave us, this is a nourishing recipe that is very easy to make.

Yellow Split Lentils with Spinach, Fennel and Red Pepper Flakes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

The lentils are first roasted until pale golden and then cooked in the typical Bengali manner. This was a dish often found on our table when I was growing up, and I still find the smell of these lentils roasting one of the most nostalgic fragrances. One whiff brings me back to childhood.


  • ½ cup yellow split lentils (moong dal)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 cup of grated fresh fennel (about 1 medium sized bulb)
  • 2 cups of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ghee (clarified butter) or oil
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes


  1. Dry roast the lentils in a heavy-bottomed saucepan for 3 to 5 minutes, till very fragrant
  2. and pale golden in color. It is important to make sure that the lentils do not burn while doing this.
  3. Add the turmeric, salt, green chilies,grated fennel and 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer.
  4. Cook the lentils for about 15 minutes, unattended adding a little more water if needed to keep to a light soupy consistency.
  5. When this consistency is reached add in the baby spinach leaves and stir until just wilted.
  6. Heat the ghee in a small skillet. Add the fennel seeds and cook for 30 seconds.
  7. Add the ginger and cook for another 30 seconds and add in the red pepper flakes.
  8. Pour mixture over the lentils. Stir the seasoned oil into the lentils and serve over rice.


(Adapted from The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles – Hippocrene 2012)






About Author

Rinku Bhattacharya, the Spices & Seasons blogger, loves meshing seasonal produce with fresh spices. Most of her recipes are inspired by her Indian heritage, and her cooking is practical, easy and well suited for a busy lifestyle on the go. As a mother with two young children, her recipes are also usually balanced and kid-friendly. Rinku is the author of the blog, Spice Chronicles (formerly,Cooking in Westchester), where she shares her life experiences and original recipes. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years. Rinku is the author of two cookbooks: The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles an award winning (Gourmand 2013) cookbook that highlights culture, memories and recipes from her childhood transformed where needed for her Lohud kitchen and Spices and Seasons that marries Indian flavors with local and seasonal produce. Rinku can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and is also a contributor for Zester Daily.

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