Cabin Fever Cooking: Spinach Dal with Coconut Milk

 Surprise. It's snowing again. (A.Gross, February 2014)

Surprise. It's snowing again. (A.Gross, February 2014)

How are we all doing? Everyone ok? It's yet another snow day here in Connecticut, and it looks something like this:

To distract you from the blustery weather, I thought that I'd share a recipe. I love Indian food, and I'm often reminded how easy it is to make at home. Last night, I made spinach dal, based on this recipe from The Splendid Table. As with most recipes, I didn't read this one all the way through and I noticed that it was better for slow cookers. Well, I skipped that step. I just simmered it on the stove, and it turned out just fine. Most Indian dishes are well suited for root and winter vegetables. I had carrots, garlic, and spinach from the farm and tapped into my frozen peppers that I put up from HBF this summer.  With a few spices, brown lentils, and a can of coconut milk, this makes an excellent week-day meal...or an excuse to cook during a snowy day with the impending doom of a power outage. 

Spiced Dal with Coconut Milk (adapted from The Splendid Table - an excellent resource and food podcast!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbl coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped/diced
  • 1 cup frozen red peppers, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • veggie stock or water
  • 1 cup dried lentils (I used brown, but you can use yellow or red)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (**If you have curry powder on hand instead of these individual dried spices, you can use it instead. I'd use like 2 Tbl of curry powder.**)
  • 1 Tbl fresh ginger, grated 
  • 1 can coconut milk (I used light)
  • 2 heaping handfuls of spinach, chopped finely or in a food processor

Instructions:

 Dal: A good place for spinach. (A.Gross, February 2014)

Dal: A good place for spinach. (A.Gross, February 2014)

  1. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onion and carrots for 10 minutes, until the onion has browned. Add frozen chopped peppers and 1/2 -1 cup of water or veggie stock to the pan, simmer, cover and cook until the carrots are tender, about 5-8 more minutes.
  2. In a separate pot, bring four cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils, bring to a boil and return to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, until lentils are tender. Drain or reserve in liquid off the heat until ready to transfer to the coconut mixture.
  3. Add spices, ginger and garlic to the saute pan. Add more water or stock to prevent the mixture from sticking and continue cooking on low heat for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Stir in cooked lentils, spinach and coconut milk. Cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes, uncovered, so some of the coconut milk has cooked down and the dish is heated through.
  5. Serve in a bowl as is or over brown rice, millet or quinoa. 

Variations/Notes:

  • I turned this into soup for lunch today. Simply reheat in a soup pot, add warm water or veggie stock. Remove from heat, and use an immersion or stick blender or, carefully, transfer the warm liquid into a stand blender. Add more liquid until you reach a desired consistency for soup - it depends on your preference. I topped my soup with a little goat cheese, but a dollop of yogurt would be excellent, too. 
  • I didn't use a picture of the soup in this post. It tastes amazing, but a picture doesn't capture its deliciousness. Sadly, it resembles the color of baby poop, which is not quite appetizing on a food blog. Just trust me on the taste!