Friday, December 9, 2011

Spinach, Tomato and Lentil Curry

 Most people decide on a recipe and then shop for the ingredients to make a dish.  I, on the other hand, do things backwards.  I shop the store for the sales items and then decide later what I want to make with my great deals (like the sweet potatoes).  Produce can be a little tricky because even if it's a great deal,  it's a terrible deal if you have to throw it out from not using it.  I recently went crazy over grape tomatoes and spinach.  I sat there looking at these two items brainstorming for a few days.  My time was running out and I decided lentils would be the best background to highlight both the tomatoes and the spinach.  Sometimes desperate measures lead to great discoveries.   I always feel proud when I come up with a vegetarian/vegan dish that is loaded with healthy protein.  Now I will have to purposely go out and buy all the ingredients because I will definitely want to make this one again (hopefully they will be on sale).

5-6 cups of fresh spinach chopped (see note)
2-3 cups of chopped tomatoes (see note)
2 cups of uncooked masoor red lentils
1 heaping Tbs of ginger-garlic paste 
1 cup of coconut milk
1tsp of cumin seeds
1tsp of mustard seeds
1 medium onion chopped
2 green chilies chopped (seeded for less heat)
red chili flakes (to taste)
salt to taste
1/2 tsp of turmeric
10-15 curry leaves
1 (2inch) cinnamon stick
3-4 cups of water
1 Tbs of canola oil
fresh lime juice (about 1-2 tsp or to taste)

Notes:  I used fresh spinach and tomatoes, but you can probably substitute frozen spinach and canned tomatoes. 

Wash the lentils with water.  Then add them to a large skillet style pan (so they don't boil over) with 4 cups of water, turmeric and a cinnamon stick.  Cook on medium-high heat (stirring occasionally) for 20-25 minutes.  The lentils will become very soft and the water should cook out.

While the lentils are cooking prep your other vegetables for the next step.

In a larger pan, heat up 1Tbs of canola oil.  Add your cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves.  Allow the seeds to fry until fragrant (a few seconds) and they start to pop and sizzle. Then add your onions, chilies and ginger/garlic. Fry these for 1-2 minutes.

Next add your diced tomatoes, salt and red chili flakes. Fry this for about 5-7 minutes or until the tomatoes start to break down.  Then add your spinach and allow it to wilt.  You can chop your spinach if your like, but I kept my whole.

Add your cooked lentils into the pan next.  Mix everything together. Finally add your coconut milk and stir will.  Taste for salt and seasoning. Finish off with a squeeze of lime juice and turn off the stove.
Serves 6-8.  It this with rice, roti, chapathi, naan.  Enjoy.

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