The recipe is adapted from the "Dal with Chapati Pasta and Spinach" recipe in Laxmi Hiremath's The Dance of Spices Indian cookbook. I made it as written and liked it, but liked the simplicity of omitting the chapati pasta aspect and found that red lentils worked better than yellow split peas.
3 TBSP vegetable oil
2 tsp yellow or brown mustard seeds (I use one of each)
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 cups red lentils, picked over and rinsed
6 cups water
1 TBSP homemade curry powder (recipe below) or storebought
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne (optional-I used to add this but omitted it for Elspeth's benefit)
2 cups chopped fresh spinach or other greens (optional, but very tasty addition!)
- If you have a splatter screen, get it ready! Heat the oil in a large (I use a 3qt) heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until it has a sheen. Add the mustard seeds and immediately cover with the spatter screen. Shake the pan and wait until the seeds have stopped popping (this can take over a minute if your pan wasn't hot enough).
- Add the turmeric and stir until fragrant (a few seconds)
- Add the lentils and water and bring to a boil. Once it's boiling, add the rest of the spices and turn heat to low. Cook until the lentils are very soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Take the lentils off the heat and stir in the spinach. If using other heartier greens you may wish to leave on the stove for a few minutes, but I usually don't. You could also cook the green separately and add to each dish.
HOT AND FRAGRANT CURRY POWDER
1/2 cup coriander seeds
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp yellow or brown mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (I'm pretty sure I've omitted these when I didn't have any)
1/2 tsp whole cloves
2-inch cinnamon stick, broken
4 green cardamom pods, seeds only
10 kari leaves (optional--I've never found these or used them)
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
4 small, hot dried red chilis (I'm sure you could omit these)
- Combine the coriander, peppercorns, mustard, cumin and fenugreek seeds, cloves, cinnamon and kari leaves in a 10 or 12 inch heavy skillet over medium heat.
- Toast the spices, stirring frequently, until they are aromatic and darken slightly (5-6 minutes). Place mixture in a bowl.
- Put the same pan on medium heat and add the oil. When it is hot, add the chilis. Toast until they're darkened and turn reddish, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and put in the same bowl with the other spices.
- After letting the mix cool slightly, grind in a coffee mill or spice grinder (we have a burr grinder, which works great).
- Pour into an airtight container. Give the powder a mix and let cool before putting on a lid. Close tightly and store at room temperature. May also be stored in the fridge for prolonged freshness.