Friday, June 19, 2009
Simple Spinach Lentil Sludge
There was some kinda indian name for this recipe when I first read it online, I no longer remember where. The original recipe was awfully fiddly, calling for fresh spinach, boiling, draining, squeezing, mincing, toasting and grinding herbs, spices, peppers... plah. This is pretty much a two-step soup.
1 cup lentils. I recommend the tiny little red ones without the hulls, but a mix is ok. This time I was short on lentils and used 1/2 c red and 1/2 c green french.
1 1-lb bag frozen chopped spinach
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed or minced
1 inch cube fresh grated ginger- note that you can sub dry for both of these in this recipe, you just have to adjust the amounts.
1 generous tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander- although this is one I do grind the seeds myself. There's this kinda lemony flavor in the whole seeds that evaporates off if it's stored ground. If you grind it yourself, use a scant teaspoon of whole seeds.
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp ground chai spices- if you don't have this, I use a combination of cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, powdered ginger, nutmeg and anise. Go easy on the anise, it's got a lot of punch.
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp olive oil
Rinse the lentils really well. Bring them to a boil in 2-3 cups of water. The amount isn't really critical. If you're using the red kind of lentil, they'll start to disintegrate almost instantly, and you can add the spinach and stir it up. Otherwise, wait about 5 minutes until they soften a good bit, then throw in the spinach.
Meanwhile, put all the other things in a little saucepan on medium heat, and simmer them together for about 5 minutes. Add the seasonings to the soup and simmer with a lid on until the lentils are totally disintegrated, or have reached a texture you're happy with. It does take 15 or 20 minutes for the flavors to blend well though. About 10 minutes before serving, add some salt. It takes a fair amount, lentils are powerfully bland, and you need to balance out the sweet spices. The finished texture is largely a matter of preference. If you want it soupy, add a little water. If you want it more like a pottage, leave the lid off to cook out more water.
This is really good to poach an egg in for breakfast. Or, if you don't have any paneer, a couple chunks of fresh mozz work well too, but they do get stringy.
You should have some tea, too.