Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spicy Spinach Lentils

Scant 2 c. mong dal (split mung beans)*
Generous 4 c. vegetable or chicken broth
1 large or 2 small sweet onions, quartered and thinly sliced
1 lb. fresh spinach, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. garam masala
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
salt to taste

In a medium pot, combine lentils and broth and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat until water is absorbed and lentils are tender but not dissolving. Keep an eye on them and add more liquid if necessary. If lentils are tender and liquid is not absorbed, uncover and simmer until liquid has mostly evaporated.

While lentils are simmering, melt butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft and beginning to brown. Add garlic and other spices and cook for two minutes, stirring, then add spinach and cook, stirring, until spinach is wilted and most of it's liquid has evaporated. Add cooked lentils and mix thoroughly. Serve with naan or over plain cooked rice.

*Split yellow peas or red lentils may be substituted for mung bean, but the split mung beans hold their shape better when cooked. Cooked garbanzo beans may also be substituted.

If you have food sensitivities, be sure to use a brand of spices and other ingredients that you know are safe. McCormick and Penzey's are both gluten-free and usually soy-free (check the label).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Saag II

There are many different ways to make Saag. I enjoy it this way.

1-2 c. leftover cooked potatoes and/or paneer, cubed
4 Tbsp. butter
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced, including edible green parts
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. sweet curry powder
3 Tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
2-3 Tbsp. cream
1/2 lb. fresh spinach
1 can garbanzo beans, undrained
1/2 -1 c. plain greek yogurt
salt to taste

In a large nonstick frying pan, brown potatoes and/or paneer in 2 Tbsp. oil over med-high heat until crispy. Set aside.

Reduce heat to med-low, add butter, remaining olive oil, and chopped onion. Cook, stirring until onion is clear and beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add green onion and garlic and continue to cook and stir until onions and garlic are soft. Add flour and spices and cook until flour and oil have made a thick paste. Add small amounts of butter if the flour is crumbly and dry.

Place milk and cream in a large mixing cup (for immersion blender use) or a food processor. Add onion/spice/flour mixture and blend until smooth and very thick. Add spinach one handful at a time and blend or chop in short pulses until spinach is finely chopped but not pureed. Add mixture back to pan, add garbanzo beans, and cook, stirring, over medium-low heat until it is heated through and the spinach has released it's water. It should be a thick sauce at this point, similar in texture to creamed spinach. Add potatoes and paneer if using and transfer to a serving dish. After transfer, gently stir in greek yogurt. Do not add the greek yogurt while it is still in the pan, as too much heat will make the yogurt "break" and it will not be creamy. Salt to taste.

Serve over rice or with naan.