July 22, 2008

Spinach & Lentils

Spinach and lentils can be mixed in a variety of combination and is an easy dish to make. I love the version of "keerai kootu", which is more watery and goes well with rice and a dash of ghee. For the following recipe I typically use less lentils than spinach, but it can be varied by using more lentils, other leafy greens, adding sauteed onions and tomatoes. This can also be served as a soup by adding some lemon juice after removing from the heat.

This one is for Naghma & Carolyn

Spinach - chopped
Lentils (dal) - Moong Dal or chana (yellow split beans) dal
Coconut - shredded
Salt & Pepper
Turmeric - pinch
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida (optional - found in Indian stores - use no more than a pinch)
Chilli - either red or green

The easiest way to make this dish is to use a pressure cooker - reduces the time it takes to cook dal. It is also faster to cook dal in the microwave than on stove top.
* Add the dal, a few drops of oil, salt, two pinches of turmeric powder, add the required amount of water (1:2 for chana dal and 1:1.5 for moong dal) and cook till the dal is soft and mash it.
* If using the pressure cooker, I would spread the spinach on top as a layer and let it cook in the steam. If not, wilt them in the microwave or blanch.
* Heat a small pan, add a little oil and fry the cumin, coriander, pepper, chilli (either green or red) and blend it with the coconut and salt. Watch the salt here as the lentils are already cooked with some.
* Add this paste to the spinach and Dal mixture, garnish with a tempering of mustard, a little chana dal, asafoetida. Add more water depending on required consistency and bring to a boil. I prefer the blended method to uniformly distribute the heat from the chillies.
* For a non-blending option, add cumin and coriander powder, black pepper, salt, mix in shredded coconut and chopped green chillies or half a peice of dried red chilli. Bring to a boil and top with tempering.
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