Thursday, February 4, 2010

Spinach Dal

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Have you ever made something to eat and said to yourself, "Dang! Did that just come out of MY kitchen!?" That's what I've been saying ever since I made this dish earlier in the week. Great the first day, great as leftovers. And not that complicated too make (does take some slightly less than ordinary spices for some kitchens).

This dish has a wonderful smoky flavor that comes from the beans. I chose to use yellow split peas for the color contrast against the spinach. Delish!

Spinach Dal
Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant

1 1/2 c red or brown lentils, or, yellow or green split peas
4 c water
2 dried chiles, whole
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt

2 T ghee or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 c chopped onions
4 c chopped, fresh spinach
1 tsp peeled and grated ginger root
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 - 1 tsp garam masala
salt to taste

Wash the lentils (or peas) in several changes of cold water. In a medium pot, cover them with the water and add the whole dried chiles, turmeric, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until very tender. Tihs will take about 30 minutes for red lentils, 45 minutes for peas. It may be necessary to add more water to prevent sticking, but only 1/2 c at a time because the final consistency should be fairly thick.

When the lentils are almost cooked, heat the ghee or oil in a small pan. Add cumin seeds and cook 10-15 seconds, until the sizzle. Stir in onions and ginger and cook until onions about 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook about 5 minutes more.

When the lentils are tender, remove and discard the hot peppers. Stir in the onion mixture, lemon juice, garam masala and salt to taste.

Other variations include: cooking without the spinach, or, cooking about 1 c chopped tomatoes along with the spinach. Or, alternatively, cooking with tomatoes but no spinach.

Serve with rice. Strong suggestion -- serve with slices of some nice sesame-topped bread for dunking.

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