Daal is an essential part of the Indian meal. It helps you balance your diet along with rice as well as sabzi (vegetable stir fry) or curry. The pulses can be cooked with different vegetables, spices or herbs to form either a thick stew or a thin soup-like consistency. It’s our comfort food and there are probably a thousand different ways in which you can make a delicious bowl of daal. This Masoor Palak Daal (Red Lentil Spinach Stew) is a hearty, nutritional lentil stew. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on the top, pair it with cooked rice, thinly slice a cucumber on the side for the extra crunch and you will have a very satisfactory meal.
We just came back from our India trip and are currently dealing with jet lag plus home sickness. I am watching all those videos and photos that I took of the kids on repeat. Avyan had such a blast this time. We met my brother’s 8-month old baby son for the first time and he is such a bundle of joy. Avyan was the perfect big brother to the little one. It was so adorable watching the two of them together. Then, Avyan had a reunion with his cousin sister at my in-law’s place. They are just three months apart and this time, there were the inseparable cousins. After those three weeks of fun, getting back to routine is proving to be quite tough.
Today, after the boys left for work and school, I felt the silence after a very long time. I am trying my best to deal with this Monday blues with some bright and vibrant food.
Masoor Palak Daal (Red Lentil Spinach Stew)
Red lentil barely takes any time to cook and that makes it my preferred choice for weeknight daal. Soaking it for about 30 minutes fastens the process. Fat-free, high in protein, source of iron and fiber, red lentils are a good choice to make your daily meal a balanced meal. When I have spinach at home, I always like to add that to make the daal more filling. Of course, you could always add any other kinds of greens like chard or kale.
Irrespective of what greens you use, just remember to flavor it up at the end. A good tadka (tempering) with ghee, some fresh garlic, little whole spices like cumin and a pinch of chili powder for the pop of color makes all the difference.
- 1 cup split red lentils
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 4 cups tightly packed baby spinach or chopped large spinach
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 3 green chili
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 3 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon chili powder/paprika
- Wash the red lentils in several changes of water and then, soak it in enough water for about 15 minutes. This step is optional but it will help the lentil to boil faster.
- After 15 minutes, drain the lentils and drop it in a heavy bottom saucepan with the water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring the water to a boil and then, bring the heat down to medium low and let the lentil simmer for about 20 minutes until the lentils are cooked through. You can also pressure cook the lentils.
- While the lentils boil, you can prepare the spinach on the side. Place a skillet on medium heat and pour the oil. Once the oil heats up, drop the spinach along with rest of the salt and turmeric powder. Give it a stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Once done, switch off the heat and leave the cooked spinach on the pan.
- Once the lentils are cooked through, place the skillet with the cooked spinach back on medium heat. Once the pan heats up, pour the boiled lentils and mix everything together. At this point, check for the consistency of the stew. Add the rest of the turmeric and green chili. If you prefer it soupier, add water and cook for some more time. Also, check for salt and add any, if required. Pour the masoor palak daal in a serving bowl.
- Just before serving, prepare the tadka (tempering). Place a small pan on medium heat and drop the ghee in it along with the sliced garlic. As the ghee heats up, the garlic will start to sizzle and in about a minute, it will start to turn mild golden brown. Switch off the heat and drop the cumin seeds in the hot ghee, followed by the chili powder. Swirl the pan and let it sizzle for a few more seconds. Pour it on top of the daal and serve immediately.