While we are on the topic of lentils, I recalled a wonderful recipe shared with me, by my lovely sister-in-law, Ghazal Bhabi. I had this dish at a dinner party at her house and I was hooked! It was so simple in its creation yet so delicious and flavourful; Chana (gram) lentils and spinach! I don’t know about you but this was a surprising combination for me because I had never seen or tried it before. I remember I wanted to lick the bowl clean but like a polite guest I did the next best thing… I asked her for the recipe :). A few days later we talked over the phone and she happily shared the recipe with me for which I am ever so grateful. Thank you Ghazal Bhabi!
I’ll admit it’s not one of Mr. Mazhar’s favorite rendition of lentils even though spinach is his favorite vegetable if there is ever going to be a vegetable to make such a claim! Carnivore that he is! So he doesn’t usually endorse my cooking this dish for dinner parties. I don’t really mind, I happily scaled down the measurements Ghazal Bhabi had shared with me to make enough for one serving and I make it sometimes just for me! There is a certain profund joy in cooking for one’s own self too! I had forgotten that but this recipe brings that feeling back to me with every warm, golden and green, buttery morsel! Is your mouth watering? Mine is…
I’ll get on with the recipe now. Do try it. You can easily increase the quantity of lentils and spinach to feed more people but as usual I caution you to adjust the spice level to suit your palate. My measurements may seem inadequate for most Pakistani palates but that’s because Mr. Mazhar and I don’t like our food too spicy. You can serve it as a main dish or as an accompaniment with lamb kebabs, rice, chapati or naan. It’s super easy to make yet packed full of flavour. Trust me you’ll enjoy it. Happy cooking everyone!
- 250gms Chana (gran lentils), washed and soaked for one hour
- 250gms spinach, chopped
- 1-2 cups water
- 1 1/2 tsp crushed red chillies
- Salt, to taste
- 1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
- 1 medium sized red onion, finely sliced
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1 medium sized tomato, chopped
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 small green chilli, chopped
- Salt, to taste
- In a saucepan, place the soaked lentils and spinach and add enough water to cover them completely and then some more. But be careful not too add too much water otherwise the lentils become too mushy and lose their shape. It might not taste as bad but it will definetly not look appetising! Stir in the crushed red chillies and salt and let it simmer, covered, on a low flame for about 25-30 minutes or till the lentils are tender and the water has dried up. If the lentils aren’t cooked through to your liking add small amounts of water and keep checking to make sure that the lentils aren’t over cooked. Once cooked through transfer them to a dish.
- In the same saucepan, heat the ghee and fry the onions till golden brown. Take out about 1/3 rd of the browned onions for garnish. Add the ginger, garlic pastes in with the remaining onions, fry for about 30 seconds and add in the tomatoes and spices. Cook for another three to four minutes and then add back the lentils and spinach mix to the saucepan. Mix everything together and adjust the seasoning. As soon as the lentils and spinach are warmed through. Transfer to your serving dish and garnish with the reserved browned onions and coriander leaves if you desire.
And that’s it! Could it possibly be any easier? I don’t think so…enjoy!