Friday, March 14, 2008

Chana Dal with Cauliflower and Spinach

I felt the need for a recouperative vegetarian meal tonight to help us recover from the previous night's bbq growl-out. This flavorful Indian dish served over brown rice fit the bill nicely. The original Cooking Light recipe called for using yellow split-peas, but when I couldn't find any, I rewrote the recipe using chana dal. Chana dal, also known as Bengal gram, is the most widely grown dal in India. It's pale-yellow color has a sweet, nutty aroma. Chana dal has a very high nutritious value and it is praised by diabetics for its incredibly low index on the glycemic index. This meal takes a little time to prepare (still very easy), but it's ideal for making while you're waiting multiple coats of paint to dry on sample boards!

Chana Dal with Spinach and Cauliflower

~5 1/2 cups water, divided
1 cup chana dal
1 bay leaf
~4 cups chopped cauliflower florets
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons peeled fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
4 cups packed, baby spinach

Combine 4 cups water, chana, and bay leaf in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, 50 minutes or until tender.

While chana is cooking...Heat butter and oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until butter melts. Add onion, ginger, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Add cumin and next 5 ingredients (cumin through cloves); cook over low heat 2 minutes, stirring frequently. I added a little of the water from the chana to deglaze the pan at the end. Set mixture aside.

At the end of 50 minutes, add 1-1 1/2 cups water, cauliflower, and salt to chana mixture, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 20-30 minutes until cauliflower is very tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; discard bay leaf.

Add onion mixture to chana mixture. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until thick. Stir in spinach; cook 3 minutes or until spinach wilts.

Serve over brown rice (I cooked mine in CM's veggie broth) and top with plain yogurt.

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