Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bhaja Moong Palak or Toasted Green Lentils with Spinach

As a child, whenever we went to a restaurant for dinner, we ordered the same thing, every time, Aloo Palak, Chana Masala. My parents are EXTREMELY tolerant folks, they ate the same thing, even if their taste buds screamed for a change. I don't remember when I actually sampled something new, probably at a wedding, probably at a friends, but finally, I did discover that there are different types of Punjabi curries and just as delicious as Aloo Palak, Chana Masala.

Every bite of this tasty curry made me wish my parents were here with us to share this simple yet absolutely and delightfully tasty curry with its roots in Bengali cuisine.
These days when ever I find a bit of time, I curl up with Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries.The book constantly fascinates me! I love the recipes and long to try all of them (the vegetarian ones).

Raghavan Iyer says,
Bengalis refer to 'toasted' or 'roasted' as bhaja. The process of toasting split green lentils in a dry pan not only creates a nutty flavor but also keeps the firm shape of the legume intact, no matter how long it cooks- certainly not the case of its untoasted counterpart, which breaks down to a mushy consistency very quickly. The spinach makes this dish colorful, but if you would like a slightly more bitter flavor - and a higher dose of iron -use mustard greens or kale instead.




Source :660 curries
Makes 4 cups

1 Cup Skinned green lentils/ Moong Daal
1/4 tsp. Turmeric
8 ounces Fresh Baby Spinach, well rinsed
1 tbsp. Canola oil
1 tsp. Fennel seeds (saunf)
1/2 tsp. Whole Cloves
2-4 dried red Thai or Cayenne chiles to taste
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tbsp. Ghee

Heat a medium size saucepan over medium -high heat.
Add the lentils and toast them, stirring constantly, until they are reddish brown and nutty- smelling, 5-8 mins.

Gently pour in 3 cups of water, stirring vigorously to break any clumps that form. The water will immediately boil because of the heat of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally , until the lentils are firm-tender, 15-20 mins.

Pile the spinach in to the pan, cover it and let the steam wilt the greens, 5-8 mins.

While the greens are wilting, heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the fennel seeds, cloves and chiles and cook until they sizzle and are aromatic 10-15 secs. Remove the skillet from heat.

When the spinach has wilted, pour the contents of the skillet into the pan. Add salt and sugar.
Continue to simmer the curry, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the flavors mingle,5-8 mins.

Stir in Ghee and serve.
This goes to Sra of 'When my soup came alive' who is hosting MLLA(My Legume Love Affair)-17, started by Susan of the famous 'The Well Seasoned Cook'
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15 comments:

  1. This is a real comfort good for me. Yummy...that last click is great, I feel like grabbing it!!

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  2. O Yum, I am going to make this! Lucky I have split moong dal in the cupboard!

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  3. Pics are so tempting.. New recipe to me roasting and cooking.Will give this a try.

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  4. I've visited your blog earlier through Nupurs but guess never commented, Like the way you present !

    you might find me around often now :)

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  5. It is okay if I have mine with some rice. Gosh you make me hungry!

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  6. I love to pair up lentils with spinach, its such a healthy combo....this looks good!!!

    trupti
    the spice who loved me

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  7. I didn't know the roasting keeps the lentil shape intact. I do roast them sometimes but can't say I've noticed this. It looks v appetising, thanks for the entry!

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  8. Very good and healthy combination-Moong Dal and Spinach. The second picture is a piece of Art.

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  9. 660 Curies is my fav cook book too Manasi! How is the lil one doing?

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  10. Hon, the annatto has a very mild scent.

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  11. Ummm definitely going to give this a try over the weekend. Yummy!

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  12. I had kind of forgotten about this recipe. my mom used to make something similar to this (minus palak but with coriander) one to eat with chapathis.
    Thanks for reminding me about this manasi.
    I also need to get that Raghavan iyer's book.

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  13. such a tempting picture..i love anuthing with lentils and this is so healthy...will be here more often...

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