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Spicy Red Lentil Stew with Coconut Milk and Spinach
1 hour 10 minutes active
Located on the southwestern coast of India, Goa is known for its use of chilies, spices, coconut and bright acid (an influence from Portuguese colonization). Split red lentils cook in minutes, making this a quick weeknight meal. Coriander, fennel and turmeric captured contribute complex spicing without requiring half the spice cabinet. Chili spice is tempered by coconut milk, and a shot of lime juice cut through the legume’s starch. Early and late additions of fresh ginger added welcome brightness and kept flavors vibrant; a wand-style grater was best for grating. If you can’t find ground fennel, grind fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle or a clean spice grinder. Both virgin and refined coconut oil worked, as did yellow and brown mustard seeds.
onion, diced (about 1 cup)
tablespoons coconut or peanut oil
01In a large saucepan, combine the onion, oil, garlic and ¾ teaspoon of kosher salt. Set the pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened and are just beginning to color, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in 2 teaspoons of ginger, the mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, fennel and pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
This recipe was easy and tasted great with enough spices for complex flavor but without using the whole spice rack. Adding the spinach made it better than dal or even dal tadka. I used Aleppo pepper flakes so it was not spicy at all. I did add black pepper with the salt when I tasted before adding spinach. Garnished with chopped tomato, cilantro and toasted pepitas. Served with naan and it was hearty enough for dinner.
Great recipe, especially as it is vegan and gluten free. Definitely spicy, though... if making for a crowd, cut back on the crushed red pepper and serve with hot sauce on the side. I ended up serving it with rice and yogurt, more like a dal, to tone down the spice.