Mixed Grains with Toor Dal and Spinach

mixed grains
clockwise from left: barley, toor dal, rice, red quinoa

It’s crazy-busy lately, and I’m cooking mostly quick and simple fare… quite mundane. I tossed this experiment together the other day and really enjoyed it. The combination of tastes and textures was interesting and different, and an easy way to get in my daily dose of carbs. One of these days I’ll get over my weeks without spinach and tire of it… then perhaps I can liven this up with something different in the veg. department.

In retrospect, this seems like a long time to cook toor dal. Some held its shape but most was mashed; combined with the little water left it made a sort of natural thickener for the dish.

Mixed Grains with Toor Dal and Spinach
serves one

For the grains/dal:

2 TB toor dal
2 TB rice
2 TB barley
2 TB red or white quinoa

4 c water
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 – 1 c fresh baby spinach leaves or torn regular spinach

For tempering/tadka:

1 tsp oil or ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp chana dal
1/2 tsp urad dal
1/2 tsp ajwain
2 dried red chilies, seeded
5-6 curry leaves
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste


Pick over and rinse dal and grains.

Wash the spinach well.

In a medium saucepan, boil water with turmeric and salt.

Add toor dal. Reduce heat to med-high and cook 10 min.

Add barley, and cook till barley has softened, about 20 min.

Add rice and quinoa. Reduce heat to med-low. Cook 15-20 min longer, until rice and barley are done and quinoa has puffed out. Pour off any extra water left in the pan.

Stir in spinach and switch off the heat. Cover the pan. The spinach will quickly wilt.

Heat the oil or ghee and pop the mustard. Lower heat a little and add cumin and dals.

When dals begin to color, add ajwain, chilies, and curry leaves. Cook a minute, then lastly add the ginger-garlic paste. Cook just till fragrant, and pour into the pot of grains.

Give it all a big stir and serve hot.

mixed grains with toor dal and spinach
mixed grains with toor dal and spinach



  1. sailaja said

    Barley, toor dal and quinoa with spinach….Linda I must appreciate your experiments. Healthy vegetarian cooking!!

    I just want to eat a spoonful of the dal right now…

    Thank you, and happy to see you back, Sailaja! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Krithika said

    That’s a very healthy combination. Great idea ! I have never used quinoa. Does it have another name ?

    Hi Krithika, I’m not sure if there’s another name for quinoa — there is none listed on my box. I know it’s supposedly very similar to amaranth. It’s fairly bland and absorbs other flavors well. If you want to try, organic and/or gluten-free shelves in supermarket sometimes have it ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Asha said

    What a combination! Never tried Quinoa though, I will some day.Looks great , like comfort food!
    I am busy too these days, is it something in the air?:D Never seems to have time for myself.Last monday, we made Pasties, came out delicious! Thanks Linda! Kids ate them for two days straight!:))

    Hey Asha — glad you enjoyed pasties! The kids looked so cute in their costumes ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. indosungod said

    Linda, that is really a different way of cooking toor dal, looks delicious though. Love your sense of adventure in cooking up all these different tastes in a single dish

    Thanks, ISG. I go through these experiment phases at times… and it was tasty, for a change. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. shilpa said

    Thats a very lovely dish Linda. I have some some spinach with me, will try if I can get hold of barley and quinoa :).

    Thanks Shilpa — if you try I hope you enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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