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Lentils topped with Mildly Spiced Spinach and Yogurt

 Lentils topped with Mildly Spiced Spinach and Yogurt

It’s been a pretty eventful week. After many months of searching, we finally sealed a deal and bought a home. For the past six months, we have been living a zen-like existence, with most of our cherished possessions in storage. What a relief to finally stretch out and relax. There were also lots of Mommy duties this week: Making my Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies for Lil’ Monsters recipe with Jake’s class, putting together a pirate costume for Halloween, and taking pictures for his school’s yearbook. It’s not exactly the same stress as working in the corporate world, but it’s enough for me. 

 Lentils topped with Mildly Spiced Spinach and Yogurt

Once in a while, when I am pushed for time, I buy packaged Indian meals from our local store, Trader Joes. I boil some basmati rice, steam some vegetables or serve salad, and warm up their packets of indian vegetarian dishes. One day this week I started to reach for the Sag Panir packet, and suddenly stopped myself. I wasn’t in the mood to cook, but I really wanted something fresh. As much as packaged food saves time, it really lacks the same punch in freshness and flavor (not to mention nutritional value). I took a deep breath, knowing that it was going to take more than ten minutes. Toby was also looking forward to the Sag, but I promised him that the dish would not disappoint. I cooked the spinach in mild spices, ditching the panir (indian cheese), and it was absolutely delicious. The silky texture of freshly cooked spinach in mild spices is light, and the hearty lentils are savory and filling, without the heaviness of carbs. The tangy yogurt on top seals the deal. Enjoy.

Lentils topped with Mildly Spiced Spinach and Yogurt

1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups good quality vegetable stock

1 pound fresh spinach, rinsed and chopped (frozen also works. Just steam and chop before cooking)
1 medium onion 
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 teaspoon of fresh jalapeno pepper, deseeded and chapped 
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon turmeric 
pinch of garam masala
2 tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter)
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
pinch of sugar to taste
yogurt for topping
pinch of cayenne pepper to garnish

How to make your own ghee: An indian grocer in London taught me how to make my own ghee years back: Melt a stick of butter on low heat in a pan, then skim off the white froth that accumulates on the top of the butter. You now have homemade ghee.

1. Start with the lentils: In a pan, heat the olive oil and fry the onions on medium heat until tender. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and fry for a minute. 
2. Stir in the lentils and vegetable stock. When the lentils start to boil, bring the heat to low, cover and cook for 40-45 minutes or until the lentils are tender. If the lentil mixture starts to dry, add a few tablespoons of water and stir.

3. While the lentils are cooking, using a mortar and pestle, pound the ginger, jalapeno, coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Add a tablespoon of water to make a thick paste. 
4. In a separate pan, heat the ghee and fry the onions until soft. Add the spice paste and fry for 5 minutes. Stir the spinach into the spices, and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the spinach wilts. 
5. Season with garam masala, salt, pepper, and sugar.  Stir and cover for 5 minutes. Top the spinach and lentils off with a drizzle of yogurt, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

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One Response to “Lentils topped with Mildly Spiced Spinach and Yogurt”
  1. Bethany says:

    A house! Fabulous. Congratulations :)

    This is timely recipe for me since I have lentils and spinach right now and I don't think I've ever prepared lentils before – I had absolutely no idea what to do with them until just now. Thanks!

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