Eventually I gave in to his requests and decided to try something different, something that essential had chana dal and spinach but was nothing like the original version. The resulting chana dal with spinach is really good. It packs a good amount of flavour and textures and has worked its way into my heart and my dinner rotation.
It is a simple dish and you can choose to serve it with some rotis / chapatis or as a side to your favourite meat dish.
Chana Dal with Spinach
125g Chana dal
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 green chillies, finely chopped (You can use just one if you’d like)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tomato, chopped
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 fresh curry leaves
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 cups spinach leaves, roughly chopped (You can also use baby spinach)
Salt, to taste
Wash the chana dal a couple of times in water and drain.
Soak the chana dal for about an hour. Drain the water.
Boil the chana dal in some fresh water (about 3 cups) and a tsp of salt. After it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Cook the dal till it has softened but still has some bite to it. You DO NOT want a mush.
Drain and reserve some of the liquids.
Heat the ghee in a large pan over medium high heat.
Add the curry leaves, garlic and cumin.
Once the cumin sputters, add the ginger, chilli and turmeric and stir to mix well.
Once the spices have turned fragrant and have mixed well (should take about a minute or so).
Add the chopped tomato and stir. Cook for a couple of minutes, till the tomato softens and breaks down a little.
Add the chopped spinach / baby spinach and stir it into the spices till it has just wilted.
Add the drained chana dal and stir through. You can add a tablespoon or 2 of the reserved liquid, if you think it is too dry.
You want the liquid to all mostly dry up. Add it one tbsp at a time. You just want enough liquid to help warm the dal through without burning. You may not need any of the liquid at all.
Check the seasoning and add more salt if needed.