Sai Bhaji (Chana Dal with Spinach & Vegetables)


Sai bhaji means "green vegetable" in Sindhi, the language spoken by people who are native to the Sindh region of modern-day Pakistan or have roots in ancient settlements by the Indus River. (Many Sindhis left what became Pakistan for India after the country was partitioned, or are part of the Indian diaspora.) One of the easier Sindhi recipes, this flavorful blend of legumes and vegetables allows plenty of room to improvise with just about any vegetable you have on hand. It's traditionally served with Sindhi-style rice, cooked with caramelized onions and garam masala, or steamed white rice, and aloo tuk (spicy double-fried potato slices). Or you can simmer it longer so it's thick enough to serve with rotis.

sai bhaji
Photo: Natasha Amar
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
45 mins


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped

  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste (see Tip)

  • 1 green bird's-eye chile or green Thai chile, finely chopped

  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped

  • 1 small potato, diced (1/2-inch)

  • 1 medium carrot, diced (1/2-inch)

  • ½ cup chana dal (split chickpeas or Bengal gram), soaked for 4 to 8 hours

  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, chopped

  • ¼ cup fresh dill leaves, chopped

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 3 cups water, divided


  1. Heat oil in a 6-quart electric pressure cooker on Sauté mode for 1 minute. Add onions and ginger garlic paste; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add chile, coriander, cumin and turmeric; stir until well combined. Add tomatoes, potato and carrot; cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes begin to soften, about 4 minutes.

  2. Rinse and drain chana dal. Add to the pressure cooker along with spinach, dill, salt and 2 cups water. Close and lock the lid. Cook on High pressure for 10 minutes. Turn off the cooker and let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then carefully release the remaining pressure manually.

  3. Add the remaining 1 cup water. Puree the sai bhaji with an immersion blender or in a regular blender until chunky-smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Simmer over low heat until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

To make ahead:

Soak chana dal 4 to 8 hours ahead. Refrigerate sai bhaji for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months.


6-qt. electric pressure cooker


Many modern Indian homes keep a jar of ginger garlic paste (routinely added to gravies and curries) handy in their kitchens. Look for it at Asian markets, in the international aisle at well-stocked supermarkets or online. Or you can make your own by grating equal parts ginger and garlic.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

248 Calories
9g Fat
34g Carbs
9g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Serving Size 1 1/2 cups
Calories 248
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 34g 12%
Dietary Fiber 13g 46%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 9g 18%
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Vitamin A 8136IU 163%
Vitamin C 35mg 39%
Vitamin E 3mg 18%
Folate 130mcg 33%
Vitamin K 262mcg 218%
Sodium 356mg 15%
Calcium 97mg 7%
Iron 4mg 22%
Magnesium 105mg 25%
Potassium 1026mg 22%
Zinc 1mg 9%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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