Recipe of the Week:: Spinach and Tomato Dal


Around about this time of the year I've had enough of parties and rich food. It's time for me to step back and have something for dinner that doesn't involve any traditional Christmas fare. So I spent some time this week reading The Gate Vegetarian Cookbook which I received for Christmas and there is nary a shortbread cookie in sight.

There are plenty of mouth-watering recipes here, but many are out of season for me so I ended up choosing this dal which was really easy to make. The recipe calls for red lentils or yellow split peas. I used split peas and I would like to make it again with the lentils. The split peas don't break down in the same way that the lentils do and you get a very different texture. In any case the soup itself was quite tasty. There is quite a lot of clove in this recipe and it gives your mouth a sort of numbness when you're finished which was a bit odd, so I might cut back on this the next time.Spinach and Tomato Dal

7 oz red lentils or yellow split peas
1 tbsp panch phoran (see below)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp each of ground cumin, coriander and turmeric
1 tsp each of ground cloves and cinnamon
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, blanched, skinned and diced or 1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp tomato puree
about 7 oz. spinach leaves, shredded
handful of chopped coriander
salt and black pepper
squeeze of lemon juice, to finish

1. Put the lentils in a large pan and add 1.5 litres (2 3/4 pints) cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes, until just tender
2. Toast the panch phoran seeds in a dry wok or large frying pan until they pop. Add the oil, heat through and stir-fry all the spices until aromatic. Add the onion and garlic, and sweat until softened.
3. Add the contents of the lentil pan, the tomatoes, and the tomato puree, and cook for 15 minutes.
4. Finish the dal by stirring in the spinach and coriander, seasoning to tasted and adding a little lemon juice.

Serves 4

Note: Panch phoran is a combination in equal parts: cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black onion seeds, mustard seeds (I used black, but there are also yellow) and fenugreek seeds

This recipe is from The Gate Vegetarian Cookbook by Adrian and Michael Daniel

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