Lentils are at the core of all Indian meals. They are ever present and are an inportant source of vegetable protein and nutrition especially for those who are vegetarian. The types af lentils used are tremendous, and the recipes are countless, changing with every state, community and even within families. What remainsa constant is how delicious they all are.
This recipe is a classic example of a very nutritious dal that is loaded with healthy spinach and pops with flavors. The creamy puréed mung beans are complimented with the herby spinach and the dal is flavored with ghee, tempered with cumin and chili powder. I chose to use malabar spinach instead of regular spinach, the leaves hild up better in the dal and they are very similar in taste. The dal is excellent, the perfect side for any Indian meal.
Yamuna Devi's cookbook is probably the first cookbook I bought when I moved to the US 30 years ago for my Ph.D. Over the years, I have cooked almost half the recipes, it is the cookbook that taught me technique, flavor profiles and always gave me a wonderful meal. This vegetarian cookbook is essential on any shelf, it is the bible of Indian vegetarian cuisine.
For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.
2/3 cups split green mung beans
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 tablespoons ghee
Salt, to taste
6 1/2 cups water
4-5 cups spinach, or Malabar spinach, washed stems removed and chopped
2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
A generous pinch asafoetida
1/2-1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
Cilantro, to garnish
Add the mung beans, turmeric, coriander powder, ginger, ghee and salt to the water in a pressure cooked or Instapot. Mix well and cook for 25 minutes. Allow to cool. When cooled purée the lentils with a hand blender or in a small blender till very smooth. You can add as much water as needed to get a consistency of your choice, some folks like this dal thick and some like it soupier. Add the spinach and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, heat a small pot with the remaining ghee over a low flame. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 30 seconds till they crackle. Add the asafoetida and chili powder and take off the heat and pour the oil over the dal. Mix in and serve topped with the cilantro garnish.