For those who want to try something simple, flavorful and vegetarian, the following recipe for “Lentils with Spinach” from Monisha Bharadwaj’s “India’s Vegetarian Cooking” (Kyle Books) checks all the boxes and will no doubt surprise those who feel the most flavorful dishes are those with meat.
Lentils with Spinach
3⁄4 cup yellow lentils (toor dal), washed
3 large handfuls spinach, chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower oil, divided
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
3 dried red chiles
1⁄4 cup freshly grated coconut
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate, diluted in 1⁄4 cup water
1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt, to taste
1 medium onion, sliced
- Put the lentils and 11⁄2 cups of hot water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are mushy, about 35 minutes.
- In the meantime, place the spinach in a pot along with a little hot water and heat it for a couple of minutes. Add it to the lentils.
- In a separate pan, heat half the oil and fry the coriander seeds until they turn dark, then add the chiles and coconut. Reduce the heat and stir for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat, let it cool slightly, then tip it into a blender along with the tamarind and a few tablespoons of water and blend until you get a fine paste.
- Add this to the lentils, along with the turmeric and the salt.
- Heat the remaining oil in a small saucepan and fry the onions until golden, then add them to the lentils. Reheat thoroughly and serve hot with rice.