Indian Tonight!

The title of this post reminds me of a quirky little Indian grocery store on Hawthorne in Portland a few years ago.  It was “INDIAN 4 YOU!”  I stopped in once or twice never purchasing much because the options were too overwhelming.  I didn’t trust myself with the spices and lazily preferred Indian take out.  But the name was so fun and energetic.  It matched the owners who were happy to have me walk in the door empty handed and leave with a bag and the prospect of a full stomach.

Last Sunday, it was gray and dreary, and I had just made it through a longish run and though I hadn’t been rained on, it was only out of dumb luck and timing.  Indian food seemed like good comfort food.  I thought about the different lentil options since those were packed with protein and other good stuff and recalled a recipe from Mollie Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

I had actually made this recipe about 8 years ago for the first time while I was living with my grandparents in Seattle – a stint between Montana and Portland (the first round).  Gami had a lot of fresh spinach and I offered to do something with it – digging through my cookbooks and searching through the index. I have a distinct memory of a rainy, late Friday night.  I had gone swimming at the community pool and set out to make this dish with whatever I could find in her kitchen. She didn’t have ground coriander but coriander seeds.  That was probably the first time I used a mini spice mortar and pestle.

This recipe is predominantly a lentil dish but then you stir in fresh spinach and even apples at the very end.  It’s a keeper and keeps well throughout the week.  Mollie’s book also give suggestions on what to serve the dish with. Normally I try to limit my big batch cooking to “one and done,” but the Pulan recipe was intriguing – raisins and coconut (basically my candy during this vegan period)!  It took a bit of choreography at the small stove with the pots and pans, but success!

Spiced Lentils with Spinach and Apples

2 TB of canola oil

2 cups of minced onion

2 cups of dried lentils (I used the full bag from Safeway)

6 cups of water (or broth for better flavor)

2 stalks of celery, minced

1 tsp of ground cumin

2 tsp of mustard seeds (should be dried mustard but I didn’t have any!)

1 TB of minced fresh garlic

1 tsp of ground coriander

1/2 tsp of turmeric

3 Tbs of fresh lemon juice (juice from 1/2 a lemon worked for me)

3 (or more!) large garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp of salt (more or less depending on if you use broth over the water)

black pepper & cayenne to taste

1/2 lb of fresh spinach, chopped (I used a bag of baby spinach)

2 medium sized tart apples, peeled and chopped (granny smith was what I had on hand but I wonder if there would be a tastier one?)

(1) Heat oil and cool onion over medium heat for about 15 minutes.

(2) Cook lentils and broth in large pot, bringing to a boil and then a simmer.  Partially cover and let simmer for 15 minutes – or longer.

(3) Add to the onion the celery and spices.  Cook for another 10 minutes.  Scrape this into the lentil pot and add the lemon juice and garlic. Simmer this partially covered another 10 minutes – or until the lentils are tender.

(4)  Stir in salt, peppers, spinach and apples, cooking for only a few minutes longer.  The spinach will be wilted and the apples soft.

The last step - in goes the spinach!

Indian Pulan

2 Tbs of oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 Tbs of minced fresh ginger

3/4 tsp of salt

1 tsp of mustard seeds

1 tsp of turmeric

2 tsp of ground coriander

1/4 cup of water, as needed

2 medium sized carrots diced

2 (or more!) cloves of garlic, diced

1 medium red pepper, diced

1/2 cup of golden raisins

6 cups of basmati rice (2 cups dry, cooked in 3 cups of water like directions)

1 cup chopped nuts, preferably toasted

1 cup flaked coconut (it  should have been unsweetened, but…)

(1)  Heat the oil in large deep skillet; add onion, ginger, salt and spices.  Saute over medium heat for about 8 minutes.  This is where I overlook the heat and the onions get a little burnt.

(2)  Add the carrots and the garlic.  Indeed, baby carrots are of less flavor and I splurged on my time buying the real deal, skinning and dicing!  Cook for an additional 5 minutes so carrots get tender.  Add the pepper, cover, and cook for another 4 minutes.

(3)  Add the raisins and the cooked rice, mixing well.  At this point I wished I had used a much larger pot – preferably a dutch oven, which I don’t have, but a little careful stirring helped. Also, I really should have fluffed the rice after it had finished cooking.  I just took it off the stove and let it cool but it clumped up which inhibited its ability to attain all the lovely seasonings.  Cook and stir on very low heat for a few minutes and top with the nuts and the coconut.  Again, loving coconut.

Frankly, I can’t wait to make some macaroons and dip them in chocolate ganache.  Post to come.

Yes, a little blurry because I was too lazy to pull out the real camera. If you are sensing a theme here, you are correct. I have a lazy streak.

My meal - lunches for the week! Now, if only I had some naan bread.

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One thought on “Indian Tonight!

  1. Wow–this sounds intriguing–especially the apple addition. The rice sounds fun too; I just love tossing spices in things! (And I mean, the actual act of adding a wide variety of spices, it’s just so fun for some reason).

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