Chana Dal with Spinach and Tomatoes
While leafing through some cookbooks in search of inspiration for another evening's supper, I came across Madhur Jaffrey's recipe for Chana Dal (in Curry Easy Vegetarian). It is an easy dish to prepare (we love those) and the idea of including some greens and other vegetables in the dal to enhance the nutritional hit it offers is a winner. After checking through our pantry (imagine a few kitchen cabinets rammed full of disorganised and somewhat random and many expired ingredients) we adjusted Jafferey's recipe accordingly. I have made a similar dal using yellow split peas. You could replace the spinach with other leafy greens, almost any would work. In the version (and there have been many in the past 10 days) in the photo above we used the rainbow chard that was provided in our veg bag.
This dish has all kinds of spice in it, and Little Boy Green is variable about spices - one day he'll gobble it all up and another we cannot get past the first spoon. Because we are eager for him to try this dish, the essential chilli kick as been left out of the cooking process. We simply spooned over a good dose of chilli oil to feed our overzealous "too hot to handle" addictions.
We will report back on the success of this dish - although this may depend on how we introduce it to the little dude. If we seem too eager for him to enjoy it, his total rejection of it is almost guaranteed. If he happens to be in THAT mood, and he can see the eager anticipation in his parents' eyes, our hopeful faces pitifully revealing the earnest desire for him to like the food prepared with love and care, he'll crush those fragile dreams with a simple turn of his head. Mrs Green has a better poker face and therefore a better track record with getting more new and "different" dishes past those little lips. She thinks of it as a version of the old "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen" method.
Ingredients: (feeds two hungry adults and one toddler)
- 250g (2 1/2 cups) yellow split peas
- 1 can (400g) crushed tomatoes
- 200g baby spinach
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger
- 1 tsp ground turmeric / turmeric powder
- 1 tsp whole black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil (or cooking oil)
- 1 tsp salt
- chilli oil to serve
- Rinse the split peas in several changes of water, then add to a large pot along with one litre (4 cups) of water and bring to the boil. Skim off any foam that that rises and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
- Add the turmeric and cook, uncovered, for 75 minutes.
- Dice the onion and place a separate pot along with the oil, mustard seeds, cumin and salt. Gently saute the mixture for approximately 5 minutes.
- Finely chop the garlic and peel then grate the ginger and add to the onion. Continue to saute for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the can of chopped tomatoes to the onion mixture and cook for 10 minutes.
- Combine the cooked tomato mixture with the cooked split peas and stir in the baby spinach while the dal is still hot, but taken off heat.
- Once the spinach has wilted, serve the dal with chilli oil and enjoy!