It’s definitely the time of year when people are looking for healthy recipes! I figured it was the perfect time to peruse my Fresh Indian cookbook, because unlike Indian food from restaurants, these dishes aren’t completely loaded down with ghee. (I have nothing against ghee, but my skinny jeans fit better when I’m not stuffing myself with it.)
If you think you don’t like lentils or spinach, this recipe just might change your mind. The flavors are classically Indian – coriander, mustard seed, and cumin – and the texture is rich and creamy. I served it with pita just because I had some, but obviously naan would be more authentic. I’m still tweaking my naan recipe, though, so I don’t have one to share with you just yet.
(adapted from Fresh Indian by Sunil Vijayakar)
2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
5 cups water
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 medium bunch spinach, washed well and roughly chopped (leaves only)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 fresh jalapeno, thinly sliced (for garnish)
Put the lentils, water, turmeric, and ginger in a dutch oven or large pot. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that collects on the surface. Turn the heat down so the mixture is simmering, and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water in 1/4 cup increments if it begins to look dry. If they are particularly soupy, turn the heat up slighly so some of the water evaporates.
Add the spinach, cilantro, and a few pinches of salt, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium high for about 30 seconds. Add the garlic, cumin, mustard seeds, ground cumin, and ground coriander. Stir fry for about 2 minutes, then pour into the lentils and stir well.
Serve immediately, with slices of fresh jalapeno (if desired)