Ever since I traveled to Mumbai last December, I've been looking for authentic Indian recipes. The recently posted recipe by Heidi S. seemed to fit the bill (now, I only wish I could eat at Kasa myself!): ivory lentils with spinach, or palak daal. Unfortunately, I could not find ivory lentils, and so pink ones had to do. Also, I used frozen spinach since I had some thawing in the fridge, but everything else was fresh, including the tumeric that I recently found at the Natural Living Center. I even located the small container of asafetida, which I had inherited from my first Indian grad student (this was still the time when my guests had to cook because I had no clue). Overall, my proportion were slightly off, because I used an entire package of spinach and just a half cup of lentils. Nevertheless, a very tasty vegetarian dish!
The originial recipe can be found at the 101cookbooks site.
My adaptation (makes 3-4 servings):
1/2 cup white lentils (white urid or urad daal), well-rinsed (you can find them at Indian grocery stores)
3 cups water, plus more if necessary
2 large handfuls of baby spinach, washed and finely chopped
1/2 TB ginger, peeled and microplaned
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 medium green chile peppers, finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1/4 ts salt
0.5 TB ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 ts red chile powder
a pinch of asafetida, optional
more salt to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
In a large pot over medium-high heat combine the white lentils and the water. Bring to a boil, and add the ginger, turmeric, 3/4 of the green chiles, and the tomato. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the lentils are extremely soft. You may need to add a bit more water during the cooking process to keep the lentils soupy. After an hour and a half, stir in the salt and the spinach.
In a separate pan, heat the ghee until very hot, and add the cumin to roast it until the cumin seeds start to pop and become fragrant. Turn down the heat, and add the red chile powder, asafetida, and roast for another 15 seconds. Add this mixture to the lentils and allow to cook for another five minutes. Taste, and season with more salt if needed. Serve topped with cilantro and a few of green chiles.