Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Toor Dal Palak (Toor Dal & Spinach)

I'm not going to try to deny it anymore; French food just isn't my favorite. There I said it. The sauces gross me out. Terrines give me nightmares. And I don't have the time after work for the complicated recipes. So as of this moment I'm embracing the fact that I'm on a French diet and eating from every other possible ethnicity but French. Perhaps I'll go on a crazy French food kick while the fella is out of town. Get some people who dig aspics and internal organs over to help me cook things I'm afraid of and see what I'm missing. But this week's menu doesn't have a single French recipe, not even anything close. I'm okay with that. I'm a curry addict and can't help it, I refuse to change.

Finding Lisa's Kitchen has only fueled the curry and lentil eating frenzy in my kitchen. I want to cook everything on this site. It's my new go to for high fiber low fat meal nights. Everything we've made from this site so far has been a keeper. This lentil and spinach dish was no exception, it was spicy and filling and flavorful. Best of all it requires obtaining a strange spice in order to prepare it.

This was my first time using asafoetida and it was quite the experience. The fella wasn't big on seeking it out remembering that the one time he tried it the stuff reeked of feet. When I saw it in the bulk spice jars at Whole Foods I decided it was a sign to go ahead an buy some. Then I opened the jar. Holy crap. Literally. It did smell like feet, combined with the worst turned bottle of wine ever opened and a vague sniff of incense from a Catholic mass. It's powerful stuff. If you buy it I suggest you put in some tupperware and store it in the garage because I now have a very smelly spice drawer.

You've got to fight through the smell though because once it's cooked up its worth the yucky scent. Somehow it rounds out all the other spices and adds a delicious depth to the flavor of the dish. It's hard to describe but now that I've tasted it I will do what it takes to keep this smelly monster around to cook with more in the future.

Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of this glorious creation. So instead I leave you with a picture of me embracing my new favorite bottle of wine. I was riding a Riesling high so don't judge me too hard. This is what I do for you so as not to go two days in a row blogging picture-less.

Toor Dal Palak

2/3 cup toor dal (or whatever color lentils you have around)
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 pound spinach, trimmed and chopped
1 tablespoon ghee or a mix of butter and olive oil
1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
3 dried whole red chilies
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Thoroughly rinse the toor dal under running water. Place in a medium saucepan and soak for 2-3 hours in 2 cups of water (skip this step if using lentils.) Add the turmeric and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, partially covered, until the dal is tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the spinach, replace the lid to partially covered, and continue to cook until the spinach is cooked and most of the liquid is gone. Turn off the heat and let the dal and spinach sit.

Heat the ghee or butter and olive oil mixture over medium heat in a frying pan. Toss in the chilies and ginger and fry, stirring frequently, until the ginger just begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garam masala, then add the asafoetida, stir once, and pour the seasonings into the dal and spinach. Stir in the lemon juice and salt.

Serve over brown rice.

Original recipe from Lisa's Kitchen Blog.

No comments: