Garlicky Spinach Lentils

Mallika Basu - Garlicky Spinach Lentils

Posted 11th November 2008

The week flew by before I knew it. And what a week. The historic US election, my dad’s fleeting visit to London and a dinner for my colleagues all crammed into five days of euphoric mayhem.

The dinner was planned months in advance. But the US election sweepstake sent a buzz through the office. Spirits were running high. And so were dinner expectations.

Questions came flying thick and fast at me:

  • “Can we email requests for the menu?”
  • “When will the cabs arrive to collect us?”
  • “Can we have a choice for starters, main course and dessert?”

Great. Now I’m being confused for Buckingham Balti.

I threatened them with the local Indian takeaway and secretly panicked. This is a big mistake. I am setting myself up for a fall. My professional image is under the microscope. What if I can’t churn out a meal for the troops like the endless papers I produce?

I decided to match the moment with a fiery meal, planned to ignite their senses. The dinner of Bhuna Gosht, Achari Baingan, Anda Raita, Lasuni Dal Palak and Bhapa Doi went down almost as well as Obama’s victory.  This recipe is from One Hot StoveLasuni Dal Palak, or garlicky spinach lentils. Stupendously easy and bursting with flavour, it was the perfect accompaniment for a high-octane evening.

Feeds 4:

  • 100gm Moong and Masoor dal or just toor dal
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen spinach
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 small onion
  • Half tsp cumin
  • Half tsp turmeric powder
  • Half tsp chilli powder
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • Salt to taste

Wash the lentils thoroughly and set to boil with twice as much cold water ad the turmeric powder in a medium pot.

Chop finely or garlic press four garlic cloves and slice the onion and tomato. In another small pot, bring the oil to heat over a high flame. When it’s hot, add in the cumin and garlic. As they sizzle up, stir in the tomato and onion and fry for tw minutes on high until they are soft.

Next add in the spinach, lower the flame to a medium and cook the spinach until defrosted or wilted. Keep an eye on the lentils and if they are drying up add a bit of hot water to them. To keep the dal thick, don’t add too much water, just a little bit every time the lentils start spluttering because they’re too dry.

When the lentils incorporate with the water and get a soup-like consistency and texture, mix in the spinach. Add a little hot water to combine all the ingredients and keep it bubbling to infuse flavours.

After five minutes, fire up a small pot with the ghee and slice the remaining two garlic cloves. When the ghee is hot, add the sliced garlic and chilli powder. As the garlic starts turning golden brown, mix this tadka into the main pot of dal.

Finally check for salt and serve with a squirt of lemon and some hot Basmati rice.

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