I absolutely adore Indian cuisine. The rich exotic flavors created through a combination of meats, vegetables, herbs and spices continue to defined the culinary uniqueness of this vibrant culture.
One ingredient widely used in Indian cooking is called Dal, better recognized for most of us as lentils or pigeon peas. There are eight different types of lentils that make up the foundation of many Indian soups and stews including Green Moong, Urad Dal, Masoor Dal, Toor/Arhar Dal, Lobia, Matar Dal, Chickpeas and Horsegram.
One of my favorite lentils to use is Toor Dal (pronounced thoor/thoo-vurr or urr-hurr) because it doesn’t require pre-soaking, cooks quickly, is extremely adaptable to most recipes and adds a light yet subtly rich flavor to any dish. If you are one to care about the health benefits of ingredients like I am, you will be happy to know that like many lentil varieties, Toor Dal is packed with folic acid, protein, carbohydrates and is an excellent option for adding natural fiber to your diet.
Currently, Costco carries an organic Toor Dal which is what inspired me to create this recipe. You can also order them here. Spicy Indian Lentil and Spinach Curry with Rice is my take on a traditional curry lentil dish but, the addition of coconut milk and lemon juice makes this recipe a bit more creamy with just the right touch of sour, so every bite is a delightfully flavorful experience.
Quick disclaimer: though Indian food can pack a punch of heat at times, the one thing I’d like to point out about this recipe is your ability to control the level of heat in the final flavor. I added two small green chili peppers that I seeded first and finely minced, so the heat runs evenly throughout the entire dish. However, if you like your food to have just a subtle essence of heat, I suggest using only one pepper to start and then adding in the other at the end if you choose. If you are a fan of really spicy food, you can add three peppers, but proceed with caution. It’s amazing how much heat one of those tiny peppers can bring to a dish.
Cooking Tip: One of the unique features of this recipe are the spincach shreds that infuse the stew. Be sure to cut them lengthwise in thin slices to bring out the texture and look of the dish. Though it takes just a little more time, I find that stacking the spinach leaves before slicing them creates consistently even shreds in the completed dish.
Indian food is usually served with rice but I also really love pairing this dish with couscous for a lighter meal. Serve this curry dish with flatbread, rotis or chapatis for a perfectly authentic Indian meal your entire family will love.
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