Palakura Pappu (Spinach Pappu)

Updated: June 26, 2024, By Swasthi

Palakura Pappu is a Andhra style side dish of lentils cooked with spinach and spices. Palakura translates to spinach and pappu to lentils. Made in numerous ways, this dish is a staple in the Telugu speaking households. In this post I share how to make it in 2 ways – regular soupy style and podi pappu with palakura.

Growing up my Mom would make podi pappu often with methi and palakura. The regular style soupy Palakura Pappu or methi pappu was very rarely made because we were fussy to eat that.

Palakura Pappu

About Palakura Pappu

The main difference between the 2 was pressure cooking the lentils and palak together for the regular style dish, while podi palakura pappu is cooked in a pot taking care not to overcook the lentils and the leafy greens.

The podi pappu is usually finished with an aromatic tempering that includes the curd chilies (chala/ majjiga mirapakayalu). It is best mixed with hot rice and ghee for a delicious meal. This dal also goes well with roti, chapati or ragi roti. Kids will love this version.

Until I began to cook myself I didn’t realize pressure cooking alters the flavors of palakura completely and that’s why growing up I never liked the soupy version. So to make the soupy version, now I always pressure cook the dal first and then add the chopped spinach directly and let simmer until wilted. To this I add the thalimpu/ tempering.

dry spinach dal recipe

Traditionally to make this dish, dal, palakura, garlic, tomatoes, onions, chilies, tamarind, turmeric and red chili powder are pressure cooked all at once, until soft. It is finished off with a tempering of mustard, cumin, red chilies, garlic, hing and curry leaves.

This is the actual Andhra style Palakura Pappu that’s followed by a lot of people. But I really feel sad for the greens being treated so harshly in the pressure cooker.

Though I pressure cook my other pappu dishes like Sorakaya pappu, Beerakaya pappu, Mango dal and Tomato pappu, I prefer not to do that with my greens. Because they are delicate and don’t really need longer cooking. I have updated these recipes recently to include all these versions. I also have 2 more versions of Dal palak here.


  • Pappu: Traditionally toor dal is the standard lentil used to make this dish. But a lot of times I add little moong dal along with toor dal for flavor and texture. For the podi pappu, we I use only moong dal.
  • Palakura: Use young spinach or baby spinach. Mature spinach takes longer to cook and can have a metallic taste. But if that’s what you have, remove the stalks and use only the leaves.
  • Aromatics: Onions, garlic and green chilies add flavor and heat.
  • Tomatoes: I generally do not use tomatoes in my palakura pappu but instead use tamarind or lemon juice. I have not used tomatoes in any versions in this post. If you eat low oxalate diet, avoid using them with palak completely.

More Palak recipes
Spinach curry
Palak rice
Spinach omelette
Palak pakoda

Photo Guide

I have shared the podi pappu version in the recipe card below.

Step by step Photo Instructions

1. Add ½ cup pappu/ toor dal to a pressure cooker or a sauce pan and rinse well thrice. Pour 1¼ cups water. Optionally you may add 2 tablespoons chopped onions/shallot, 1 green chili, 1 garlic clove, 1 small tomato (deseeded and chopped). I have not used any of the optional ingredients. Pressure cook for 2 whistles on a medium heat or in the instant pot for 10 mins. When the pressure drops, open the lid and mash the dal slightly.

To cook in a sauce pan, bring to a rolling boil. Reduce to medium and cook until tender, adding more hot water as you cook.

cook dal till smooth for palakura pappu

2. While the dal cooks, pluck spinach leaves (2 cups/100 grams/4 to 5 ounce) and wash them in lot of water several times. Drain them and chop. Add the chopped palakura to the hot dal and let cook until wilted. If your dal is too thick you may add a splash of hot water.

add chopped spinach for palakura pappu

3. When the spinach is cooked completely, it looks wilted and blends well with dal. Add ⅓ teaspoon sea salt (start with less), ⅛ teaspoon turmeric and strained tamarind water (start with less). Stir and mix well. Taste test to adjust salt and tamarind.

adding salt to cook palakura pappu


4. Heat 1½ to 2 tablespoon ghee or oil in a pan. Add ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 broken dried red chili, 1 chopped green chili (optional for extra heat) and garlic. When the spices splutter, add curry leaves (pat dry first) and hing. Turn off. (If you want you can stir in ⅓ teaspoon red chili powder for green chilies). I have added the tamarind water here instead of the previous step.

seasoning curry leaves cumin in ghee for palakura pappu

5. Pour the thalimpu/seasoning to the dal. Mix and stir.

garnishing palakura pappu with tempered ingredients

Palakaura pappu is ready to serve with chapathi or rice.

Palakura Pappu Recipe

Related Recipes

Recipe Card


Palakura Pappu

5 from 8 votes
Palakura pappu is a simple andhra style lentil dish cooked with indian spinach and tempered with spices. This is usually served with rice or chapati. In this post I have shared 2 methods to make palakura pappu. The first one is the traditional method made by pressure cooking. The second one is the dry palakura pappu which is cooked in a pan or pot with moong dal.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time20 minutes

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • ½ cup dal (pappu, Toor dal or moong dal)
  • cup water (¾ cup for podi pappu/dry version)
  • 100 grams (about 3 to 4 ounces) spinach (1 small bunch of palakura)
  • 1 to 2 green chili slit (omit for kids)
  • 1 small (2 tablespoons) onion (optional, sliced or chopped)
  • 1 small (¼ cup) tomato (optional, deseeded and chopped)
  • 1 garlic (clove, optional)
  • teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind (soaked in ¼ cup hot water or 1 tbsp lemon juice)
  • teaspoon turmeric

To Temper (Thalimpu)

  • tablespoon oil or ghee
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 dried red chili (broken)
  • 1 green chili (chopped, optional for extra heat or use ⅓ tsp red chili powder)
  • 1 garlic (cloves crushed or chopped)
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (pat dry to avoid splatters)
  • 1 pinch hing ( asafoetida, optional)

Optional To Garnish

  • 6 curd chilies


Pot-in-pot pressure cooker

  • Add dal to a large bowl and rinse it well. Pour fresh water to cover the dal. Add onions, tomatoes, chilies, garlic, tamarind water (start with less), salt, turmeric and chopped palak on top of the dal. Place it in the cooker.
  • Cover and pressure cook for 4 whistles or 10 to 12 mins in the Instant pot. When the pressure drops, open and mash slightly. Taste test, adjust salt and tamarind to taste.
  • Temper – Thalimpu: Pour ghee to a small tadka pan and heat it. Add cumin, mustard, red chili, chopped green chili (for extra hot) and garlic. When the spices splutter add curry leaves and hing. Turn off. (If you want you may add ⅓ tsp red chili powder for green chilies at this stage) Pour this to the cooked palakura pappu.

Cook directly in Cooker or a Pot

  • Add dal to a sauce pan or cooker. Rinse well a few times. Drain the water and pour fresh water. Add all the optional ingredients – onions, tomatoes, garlic and green chilies. Pressure cook for 2 whistles on a medium heat or for 10 mins in the Instant pot.
  • When the pressure drops, open the lid and add the chopped palakura. Let cook until it wilts completely. Stir in tamarind water, turmeric and salt. Mash it slightly. If your pappu is too thick pour little hot boiling water to bring to a consistency.
  • Make the thalimpu following the above instruction.

Podi Palakura Pappu (no onion)

  • Rinse dal in a pot and pour ¾ cup water. Optionally add chopped tomatoes and green chilies. Bring to a rolling boil on a high heat and reduce to medium. Cook until pappu is tender, hold shape and fully cooked but not mushy.
  • Stir in the spinach, turmeric and salt. While it cooks, heat a small pan with ghee or oil. Add the curd chilies (optional), fry till they turn crispy. Remove them immediately to prevent burning. Keep aside.
  • Next add mustard, cumin, garlic, red chili/green chili when they begin to splutter add curry leaves and hing.
  • When the spinach wilts and is cooked through, pour the tempering to the pappu & mix well. Taste test and adjust salt. Turn off and let rest for 5 mins. Squeeze some lemon juice and garnish with the fried curd chilies.


If you plan to refrigerate, cool it immediately and store it in airtight box, refrigerate. Stays good for 48 hours (2 days).

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Palakura Pappu
Amount Per Serving
Calories 263 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Sodium 112mg5%
Potassium 458mg13%
Carbohydrates 31g10%
Fiber 15g63%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 12g24%
Vitamin A 75IU2%
Vitamin C 19.4mg24%
Calcium 27mg3%
Iron 3.7mg21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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Hi, first of all
Thq fr the yummy receipe’s.. Have you posted thotakurra (amaranth leaves) recipes.. I have been searxhing but couldn’t find…

5 stars
love your recipes swasthi! simple and tasty recipes! life saving recipes !

Superrr I like this recipe very. Much

Really yummy n v tasty, came out well. Thanks

Comfort dish,looks yummy

Moong dal palak with fried chillies. perfect combo.

mind blowing clicks.. looks too yummy:)

Flavorful dal…….. Very healthy too!

Protein ric n iron rich bookmarked swasthi

Nice healthy dal. What kind of those red chilli are?

Linsy, those are fried curd chilies

Yummy, tasty curry. We too make it by adding coconut paste.