In Indian cuisine , Spinach is a very versatile green leafy vegetable . These bundles of greeny goodness are used in both vegetarian as well as non vegetarian dishes to impart a delicious tangy twist to the routine preparations as well as in many exotic Gourmet dishes. I mean , you could add it to a chicken curry and get a scrumptious Palak Chicken , its added to mutton recipes , lentils and kneaded in the dough to get brilliant green pooris.
I have a particular liking for this recipe of Spinach and lentils because there is such a visual appeal in the dark green softened leaves bespeckled with golden grains of lentils just firm enough to stand out yet soft enough to chew. And then it is a one pot recipe and by now most of you who have been following my blog regularly must have realized that I have a fetish for one pot recipes and if the whole dish can be prepared in one go….wow that’s an extra bonus.
This proportion of the recipe is enough for a family for four , and since it is neither a thin curry nor a dry vegetable preparation it can be enjoyed with either rice , rotis pooris or even with dinner rolls .
Ingredients for Palak Dal Bhaji:
1. 125 grams split mung beans
2. 250 grams preferably fresh spinach leaves , otherwise even frozen and thawed are fine
3. 3 - 5 tablespoons of ghee / refined sunflower or groundnut oil
4. One teaspoon cumin seeds
5. One medium onion chopped fine
6. One tablespoon finely chopped garlic
7. Half a teaspoon ground coriander
8. One fourth teaspoon turmeric powder
9. One level teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder or one green chilli chopped fine
10. One fourth teaspoon Garam masala
11. Salt to taste
Method for Palak Dal Bhaji:
1. Soak the mung beans in cold water for about two hours.
2. Heat the Ghee / oil in a heavy based pan on medium heat.
3. Add the cumin seeds and as soon as they change colour , add the onions and garlic and stir for 3 – 5 minutes till the onions become soft.
4. Add the spices beginning with the coriander powder , turmeric and then the Kashmiri Red Chilly Powder , stir for a few seconds and follow up with the drained mung beans.
5. Stir fry the mung beans for 2- 3 minutes , then add 150 ml of water along with any of the water left in which you had soaked the dal.
6. Turn the flame on high and when the water begins to boil , reduce the flame to low , cover and simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes. Check in between and give a stir , add a little water if necessary and let the mung beans cook till just about soft yet firm and retaining their shape.
7. Meanwhile chop the spinach holding the leaves one over the other and then making a pipe , so that you get long and flat leaves about a centimeter in width.
8. When the mung beans are ready as mentioned in step 6 , turn the flame on high and add the chopped spinach leaves and the salt and keep stirring till the spinach leaves have shrunk and the excess moisture has evaporated. The curry as mentioned above is thick and not thin or watery. Season with Garam Masala and give a stir.
9. Enjoy it piping hot with Long grain or Basmati rice , Rotis , Plain Paranthas or even Dinner Rolls . A crunchy salad of mixed chopped Onions , tomatoes ( seeds removed ) and cucumber dressed with fresh cilantro and a dash of lime juice goes well with this dish.