Dining à la daal

Surrounded by a smorgasbord that stretches several blocks, I have to constantly fend off the desire to eat out or order in, especially at dinner time. (Lunch seems more excusable since I’m at work and it’s easy enough (and relatively inexpensive) to get something from a food truck.) So I stared at my refrigerator and pantry tonight in the hope that inspiration would strike.I had some cooked brown rice, red lentils, some chopped frozen spinach, and a half-empty tin of tomato sauce. Making regular daal with the rice seemed a poor choice since I didn’t have any mustard or cumin seeds for tempering/tadka.

My slow-moving brain finally remembered to look up dal palak, which is essentially a combination of lentils and spinach. Et voila! I tampered with recipes I found online since most of them called for ingredients I haven’t bought yet. But the end result might just have become one of my favorite daals.

1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup spinach (thawed)
1/2 cup red lentils
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp red chili powder
1 green chili pepper, partly sliced lengthwise to expose the seeds
1 1/2 tablespoon tomato sauce
salt to taste

Rinse the lentils and then cook in about 2 cups of water till almost done. Add the turmeric and chili powder toward the end.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan till it starts to shimmer, then add the ginger garlic paste and sauté for a minute. Add onions and the chili pepper and sauté till the onions turn golden and translucent. Add the tomato sauce and sauté for a couple of minutes. Toss in the spinach and mix well for another minute. Add the cooked lentils and gradually mix in a cup of water so the daal simmers gently for about ten minutes without burning on the bottom. Season with salt. Serve with rice or rotis.

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