Monday, September 08, 2008

Spinach and Lentil Curry

I've been salivating for Indian food ever since I picked up India's Vegetarian Cooking: A Regional Guide from the library. This is a definite purchase item. Gorgeous photographs and I want to try every recipe! This is a rare recommendation.

This recipe is an adapted version of the book's Palak Dal (Gujarati-Style Spinach and Lentils). I have to admit, I've made many Indian dishes, but none with spinach. Palak Paneer (spinach with Indian cheese) is the best-known Indian spinach dish, but this cookbook has a number of interesting new spinach variations. And because the spinach is pureed in a blender or food processor, it works for those who don't like that succulent spinach teeth-squeaky characteristic.

I made the following modifications:

  • I added diced potato to make it more of a meal

  • I used yellow lentils instead of split mung beans

  • I added a pinch of ground cumin and a pinch of ground corriander

  • I added 1/4 cup fresh pureed cilantro to the spinach

  • I added 5 pinches of sea salt

  • I cut the 2 fresh small green chilis to 1/2 large jalapeno chile, deribbed (next time I'd use a whole one as it was a little too mild for me, but this is up to personal taste - recipe adjusted for this.)

  • The spinach adds a freshness to this dish, but the spinach flavor is extremely mild, so it's a great recipe even for those who aren't really into spinach. I followed the recipe quantities and would say this makes two hearty portions. The original recipe is for the sauce base and says it serves four with a vegetable stir fry.

    Spinach & Lentil Curry:

    2 - 2 1/2 cups water
    3/4 cup yellow lentils
    3 small potatoes, diced
    5 oz spinach
    1/4 cup cilantro leaves
    1 pinch sea salt
    1 TBS sunflower seed oil of ghee
    1 large garlic clove, minced
    1/2" cube fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
    1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deribbed, and chopped
    1 pinch mustard seeds (I used yellow, but black if you have them)
    1 pinch cumin seeds
    1 pinch ground cumin
    1 pinch ground coriander
    juice of half a lemon (essential)
    4 pinches of sea salt

    Rinse the lentils and add to a saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer 15 minutes, then add diced potatoes. Simmer an additional 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain excess water.

    In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 TBS sunflower oil. Toast the garlic, mustard seeds, cumin seeds for 1 minute. Add the ground cumin and coriander. Cook another minute and turn off heat.

    In a blender of food processor, blend the spinach, 1/2 TBS sunflower oil, fresh coriander, and a pinch of salt until pureed.

    After draining the water from the lentil mix, add the toasted spices and pureed spinach/coriander. Add lemon juice and salt to taste (I added 4 pinches).

    An after-thought was that this dish would benefit from a creamy spoonful of raita (plain yogurt, grated cucumber, salt, pepper, ground cumin). This was good alone, but for a more substantial meal, serve over rice or with nan (Indian bread).


    Blogger Anna Haight said...

    This looks great!

    9:31 PM  
    Anonymous gaja said...

    Thank you for the recipe, Catherine! It looks like the perfect dish to take to work for lunch. Off to look at the book...

    6:28 AM  
    Anonymous gaja said...

    Coming back to say that I ordered the book. Reading your blog can be an expensive habit :)

    7:04 AM  
    Blogger Christine said...

    What a great recipe, Catherine. I'm saving it for my vegetarian friends.

    11:17 PM  
    Blogger Sara said...

    This looks really good, I love lentils. I bet it would be good over rice.

    6:46 PM  

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