Malabar Spinach Curry

Basale Soppu Saaru- Karnataka Style

Basale Soppu Malabar spinach (Basella Alba)is a type of spinach and is a creeper. It grows like a weed in South India. The leaves are is high in Vitamin A, C, Iron, and Calcium. I bought and planted the plant in a planter and it grew quite well. It likes warm weather and I enjoyed it as long as it lasted. The leaves are waxy, almost like a succulent.I have made this curry (saaru) before and love it. If you cannot find, Malabar spinach, use regular spinach.

The recipe has been adapted from Swayampaka. I use byadige chilies here which give a nice red color to the masala but are not as spicy. This curry is made with lentils and therefore power-packed with protein and vitamins. Eat with steamed rice, naan or roti, dosas or idlis, or even as a soup.


  • 2 1/2 cup chopped basale (malabar spinach)
  • 1/2 cup tur dal (lentils)
  • 1 small onion- chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste or 1 lime size tamarind soaked in water
  • 1 tsp jaggery or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable oil/canola oil
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 tbsp channa dal
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 6-8 byadgi chillies or 3-4 dried red chillies (byadgi chillies are not as spicy and imparts a nice red colour)
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut (I use frozen grated coconut from the indian grocery store)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing)
  • 2 red chillies


  • Wash tur dal and pressure cook/ cook in instant pot (6 minutes) with 1 1/2 cup water. (You can cook on a low flame with 2 cups water and cook till soft). Keep aside. This cna be done earlier or even a day earlier and stored in the refrigerator.
  • In a sauce pan, heat 1/2 tsp oil
  • Add ingredients for masala (except coconut) and fry on a low flame till the channa dal is golden. Be careful not to burn. Add coconut and fry for a minute and turn off heat
  • Grind masala with 1/4 cup water to a fine paste
  • In a sauce pan, heat 1 tsp oil, add chopped onions and garlic and saute
  • Add chopped spinach and saute on low flame for 5 mins
  • Add tur dal (with water), masala paste, jaggery (brown sugar), salt and tamarind paste and cook on medium heat for 5-6 minutes. You would use about 3 1/2-4 cups of water in total (including cooking the dal and masala)
  • The consistency should be of a soup (slightly more watery than a stew)
  • Set aside
  • In a small pan, heat 1 tsp oil. Add ingredients for seasoning
  • When mustard splutters, pour seasoning over the curry
  • Serve hot with steamed rice, quinoa or rotis/naan or as a soup with some nice crusty bread!
  • Enjoy!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sheree says:

    Looks delicious


      1. Sheree says:

        I’m going to give this a go


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