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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Indian-Spiced Lentils with Spinach

This has been a good cooking week ~ beautiful late-spring vegetables, lovely warm summer-like weather and school winding down are putting me in a happy mood.

This week I have made Thai Peanut Sauce on Rice Noodles, an old favorite - Aloo Palak (spinach and potatoes), and even Mahi Mahi in a proven├žal sauce (I haven't posted it here). Yesterday for lunch I tried this lentils recipe from my latest issue of Vegetarian Times. I would never have put lentils and raisins together, but they totally worked! The original recipe calls for rhubarb, but I didn't have any, so I used a mango chutney instead and that was downright fantastic.

Try this and you will find a super flavorful dish that brings vegetables, indian spices, salty and sweet together in a surprising way. I've already seen it online with garbanzos substituted for lentils.

Serves 4, Vegetarian Times June 2011

2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
2 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
3 tbsp minced fresh ginger (I use minced ginger in a jar)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red onion, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed & drained (or 1 cup dried garbanzos, soaked overnight, or two cans garbanzos)
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided
1/2 lb fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/4-inch slices (I topped the dish with mango chutney instead)
6 cups spinach leaves
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds to the skillet, cover, and cook for about 2 minutes or until the mustard seeds start popping. (This makes the house smell so good!) Cook 1-2 minutes after that, or until they stop popping, shaking the skillet frequently so that they don’t burn. Remove from the heat, stir in the ginger and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and set aside.

2. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and raisins and saute for 10 minutes or until the onion begins to brown. (That's right, onions and raisins together!)

3. Add the lentils (or garbanzos) and 3 cups broth. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium low and simmer for 25 minutes, covering for the last 15 minutes so that the lentils / garbanzos cook through. Start the rice now too.

4. Stir in the rhubarb and the remaining 1/2 cup broth. Cook for 6 minutes. Add the spinach, cover, and cook for minutes more. Stir the mixture to incorporate the rhubarb and the spinach. Stir in the spice mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice.


  1. I made this with the rhubarb, as per the original recipe. It's interestingly tangy. My wife loved it

  2. I agree with Paul...it was quite tangy. Perhaps next time I'll use half of the rhubarb that's called for. It was very distracting from the other flavors. I couldn't enjoy the cumin as much as I wanted to because I totally couldn't taste it!! the chutney sub was brilliant!!