Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

More than once recently, we've wanted to show off our tikka masala recipe to dinner guests, but didn't have a satisfying side dish to go with it.  Lentils are kind of a no brainer Indian side dish, but it took a few failures before we found a recipe that we enjoyed enough to want to share.  These lentils have great flavor to the point that, I'll readily admit, I make them as the main dish more often than using it as a side.  The original recipe uses Swiss chard instead of spinach, but I always have spinach on hand and it makes a great substitute.  And now if I ever do need a great Indian side dish, I know what recipe to use.

A side note: the recipe calls for garam masala, which is a cumin-laden spice akin to curry powder.  In fact, I've substituted curry powder for garam masala in several recipes and not been disappointed.  I happened to buy some garam masala at some point, so I used it in this recipe as stated, but if you don't make Indian-type foods very often, there's no reason to purchase another spice for this dish alone.

Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach
(adapted from New York Times)
Printable Recipe
Serves 4 for main dish, 6 for side dish

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, then minced
2 to 3 cups vegetable broth as needed
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup dried lentils
1/2 teaspoon crushed bay leaf
5 ounces spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1) In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, garam masala, curry powder and jalapeño. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
2) Stir in 4 cups broth, sweet potatoes, lentils and bay leaf. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, partially cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. (If lentils seem dry, add up to 1 cup stock, as needed.) Stir in spinach and salt and pepper, and continue cooking until lentils are tender and spinach is wilted, about 10 to 15 minutes total.
3) Just before serving, stir in cilantro and lime juice. Serve over rice, or alone as a side dish.  Garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired.  Enjoy!

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