Little Lentils, Big Love

Lentils are mighty where it counts. High in protein, fiber and iron, they’re that small, understated kid in middle school who would approach the chin-up bar for that annual presidential fitness test and make ten pull-ups look easy…pause…then do 20 more. They deserve a standing ovation! According to Wiki, lentils have been consumed by people for almost 13,000 years. Long live the lentil!

I heart lentils

Ever since our family traveled to India nearly 20 years ago, we’ve been making big batches of daal. This particular recipe with fresh spinach and ginger has always been a hands-down, surefire favorite. The best communal, comfort cuisine on earth? Quite possibly, if you ask me. There’s just something about a plate full of spiced lentils and rice that makes everything better. Pom featured the recipe in the 1994 edition of The Blue Dress Cookbook. I recently whipped up a double batch for book club…

To: Friends

From: Annie

Email Subject:  Bring Your Own BINDI

I’m next to host. We’re going Indian themed next month. Here’s the scoop: 

Not one but two book selections (take your pick…or read both!) 

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (one of my favorite authors)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling (one of my best friend’s…she just doesn’t know me yet)

I will whip up an Indian themed dinner to celebrate our Indian authors. 

Book Club
I didn’t have enough chairs for everyone, so we sat in a circle on the living room floor. It felt right. No one brought a bindi, but everyone brought wine. Even better.
EB and Zoe. Namaste.
And then, just last week Pom made a pot for our Indian feast in Bozeman (complete with Betsey’s homemade naan and chutneys). So much lentil love!
Indian Feast
Betsey's naan
Indian Goodness

Maybe you’ve noticed by now that this recipe (the green, mushy looking food on the plate) is a bit aesthetically challenged. We’ve been calling it “Yucky Daal” for as long as I can remember for this very reason. But, I promise that appearance doesn’t matter when it comes to daal. Taste trumps.

Tiksa Daal – Lentils with Spinach and Ginger
Serves 4 as a side dish

1 cup red lentils, rinsed
3 cups water
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 – 1 hot green chile, finely chopped (I like serrano, but you can use jalapeno for less kick)
1-2 inch nub of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 bunch fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and coarsely chopped
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Juice from half a lemon, or to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil. When hot, but not yet sizzling, toss in the chopped chile and ginger. Stir and fry for about 10 seconds.

Add the spinach and cilantro and stir until the spinach has wilted.

Add the lentils, water and a couple pinches of salt. Stir and bring to simmer, then cover and cook gently for at least 30 minutes.

Remove lid and simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes or until lentils are soft. Add the black pepper, lemon juice, and more salt to taste. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

This daal is even better and balanced when served with basmati rice and cooling, cucumber raita.



2 thoughts on “Little Lentils, Big Love

  1. I could eat this until the cows come home, especially if you (and Sister Hazel) are here too. Great post, great pics. Saucy. XOXOX and we love you. P and H

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