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Thursday
Apr032014

Spinach Dahl with Puy Lentils

Inspired by a dish I would always order at the old Oh! Calcutta restaurant in Darlinghurst Sydney, what especially caught my attention was the use of Puy (French) lentils in this Indian classic, which added a wonderful texture as these lentils hold their shape rather than become soupy. I recommend storing frozen spinach as part of a pantry staple, as it can be added so easily to so many dishes like this one, and with most of the ingredients coming from the pantry as well you can make this easily for midweek meals.
For my favourite Indian banquet I serve this recipe with  Pumpkin Dahl with Basil and Split Peas Chickpea and Tomato Stew, with my favourite Fish Curry with Coconut Milk and Fenugreek  or tandoori lamb cutlets where I follow the simple instructions on the jar to marinade and grill.

Pictured: Spinach Dahl with Puy Lentils

225g Puy (French) lentils
1 tomato, chopped
225ml coconut milk
2 long green chillies, chopped roughly
¼ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp veg oil
500g spinach leaves, or 250g packet frozen chopped leaf spinach defrosted
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 onion (brown or Spanish) finely chopped
10 fresh or dried curry leaves

Place the lentils in a pan with the tomato, coconut milk, chillies, ground spices and 2 cups of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes, til lentils are tender, adding a little more water if necessary. The idea is for the lentils to absorb the liquid so watch it closely, stirring now and then, and only add more liquid if there is a risk of it being too dry and burning on the bottom. Remove from heat.
Heat 2 tsp oil in a large pan, add spinach, toss high heat 1-2 mins til just wilted. Remove from heat, squeeze out moisture, and chop finely. Alternately, have the frozen spinach defrosted and ready to add which is my preference to save time on this labour intensive step and works just as well.
Heat the remaining oil in a small fry pan, add the cumin, and mustard seeds and cook medium heat 2-3 mins til fragrant and seeds begin to pop. Add onion and curry leaves and cook another 10 minutes, til onion is golden.
Add the onion mix and spinach to the lentils and stir low heat 5 mins or til warmed through and flavours mingle.
Serve either on its own with rice, poppadums and chutneys, or as part of an Indian banquet.
Serves 4
Pictured: Frying the onion and spices til golden