The day before leaving for my trip to Ohio, as if I didn’t have enough to do, I tried to recreate a meal we had while dining out recently. A few weeks ago I mentioned eating the most amazing Dal Saag [lentils + spinach] at Taj Mahal, a local Indian restaurant. Since then I have scoured the interwebs looking for a recipe. I came across a few, but none sounded like they were going to give the result of what we had in the restaurant. It was so buttery rich and creamy. The recipes I found used butter or ghee, but not a lot and they didn’t call for all that much spinach. This restaurant version was completely packed with spinach.
I ended up taking a few ideas from multiple recipes and just sort of winging it. I was not too hopeful, but stood in the kitchen cooking away for about an hour, jotting down notes on a piece of paper, until it tasted right.
The result was not Dal Saag. Or at least, not the same Dal Saag we had. At all!
But it was Dal delicious.
I first I wasn’t even sure which type of lentil to use. There were a few recipes that specified a legume with an Indian name, a few that called for yellow split peas, and maybe one that called for green lentils.
After a bit of tweeting for help, I decided to use green lentils. Sometimes yellow split peas can become really mushy, and I did not want that to happen.
A lot of spices were used in this recipe. I hope you don’t have to go on a wild goose chase to find them! If you have a bulk spice section, that will be your best bet. A few recipes called for curry leaves + fenugreek leaves, neither of which I could find. But, I did find fenugreek, which I’ve never used before. According to Wikipedia, it’s used as an herb + a spice and is used in many curries. It smelled wonderfully flavorful. I will definitely be using this in my Indian cooking more often!
- fenugreek – yellow grain looking stuff
- mustard seeds – tan round seeds
- cumin – green/brown seeds
The recipe isn’t difficult, but requires a little bit of time. The lentils have to be cooked first, which take 45min. They can be cooked ahead of time and stored in the fridge for a few days as well.
This meal is packed with flavor and loaded with protein [from the lentils!]. It’s also filled with spices like turmeric + ginger, that have been shown to have a long list of health benefits.
These photos were taken with bright white lights, in the kitchen, in total darkness. Not terrible for cheap, artificial light. ;)
I was shocked this turned out to be a recipe-worthy meal and because it did, I just had to share!
Ashley’s Not Dal Saag [serves ~4]
- 3T butter [or olive oil]
- 1 1/4c uncooked green lentils [~3c cooked]
- 1 large bunch fresh spinach, washed + chopped
- 1t mustard seeds
- 1/2t turmeric
- 1/2t cumin seeds
- 1/2t ground cumin
- 1T fresh grated ginger
- 1 mild green chilies [small can ~3/4c]
- 1/2t salt
- 1/2t ground black pepper
- 1/4-1/2t garam masala
- 1t fenugreek
- 1/2T chili powder
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1c veggie stock
- Rinse green lentils + cook according to package directions. Drain + set aside. Do this the 1-3 days before and store in the fridge, if you like.
- In a large pan over medium heat, heat the butter.
- Add in mustard seeds, fenugreek and cumin seeds, stirring for about 30sec-1min, or until fragrant.
- Add in the cooked lentils, ground cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper, garam masala [start with 1/4t], chili powder, and garlic. Stir and reduce heat to med-low for about 3-5min.
- Add in green chilies + chopped spinach. Stir to combine and cook for another 3-5min, stirring once or twice.
- Add in veggie stock, stirk, cover and let simmer [on med-low to low, depending] for about 30min, or until veggie stock is absorbed. It should be nice + thick. If it’s still wet, leave uncovered and let simmer until more liquid is absorbed.
- Taste and add more garam masala, salt + pepper if needed. I used about 1/2t garam masala, but it’s quite spicy, so add slowly.
*I cooked brown rice on the side and started it about 10min before this dish.
*I used a large bunch of fresh spinach, because it’s a lot sturdier + thicker than baby spinach you find in a tub. If you can’t find fresh spinach, I would sub in about 6-8 handfuls/cups of baby spinach. You can always add more as it’s cooking.
*The fenugreek holds a lot of flavor. If you can’t find it, this dish will definitely be lacking a bit. Add more spices as you see fit! Taste along the way.
And if that didn’t fill you up enough, here’s a new breakfast recipe!
What I love about this recipe, besides the taste factor, is that all of the ingredients are combined the night before in your blender. Then in the morning, you just blend away + pour in a bowl. Little mess + ready in less than a minute. Look at how thick this is before blending!!
This was filled with fresh organic strawberries + banana. One of my very favorite flavor combinations!
Strawberry Banana “Dough Boy” Smoothie [adapted from KERF]
- 1/4c rolled oats
- 1/4c oat bran
- 2/3c unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2t vanilla extract
- 1T chia seeds
- 1/2 very ripe banana
- 6-8 large organic strawberries [fresh or frozen]
- Add milk to your blender, and then all other ingredients.
- Stir + cover with saran overnight or at least 1hr prior to eating.
- Blend until smooth. Add more liquid if desired.
The result? An extremely thick, slightly sweet, fruity, creamy, satisfying bowl, of pure goodness.
Top it with more banana.
And melted pnut butter + coconut butter.
Now I’m craving drippy peanut butter. And strawberries. Better get to bed so breakfast comes quick!