Power packed whole green gram with spinach – perfect base for a filling salad lunch or accompaniment to aloo poori!
Some dishes just can’t help but bring back childhood memories. Not so much because of the taste or flavour, but more because of the ritual. On most Sundays in my parents house, we would have desi-style macaroni for breakfast. This soupy, tomatoey, garlicky preparation that we would top over fresh, soft white bread slices and relish for brunch – almost every Sunday of the month. But once in a while, there was a treat for Sunday Brunch in the form of Aloo Poori & this Moong-Palak dish. More often that not, if someone was joining us for lunch, this would be mom’s special upgrade. Specially if one of their various Parsi or Christian friends were visiting, since they don’t make anything like this in their homes.
Would you believe that every time she makes this aloo-poori, I actually binge on the aloo curry and this moong-palak. She usually places a kachumbar salad on the table too – a simple Indian salad of finely diced onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, green chillies and dhaniya. I top the moong-palak with this salad, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and it’s a perfect meal by itself. The poori becomes incidental!
This sookhi moong-palak dal is such a great favourite in our home. Or rather, in my parents home. AK doesn’t eat dal. Or vegetables. Or anything that could remotely be good for you! Or haven’t I mentioned that before?
Sometimes, I’m amazed at the strange things I do to get my quota of fruits & vegetables, without having to cook up an extra dish for dinner. From cold soups, to vegetable smoothies, veggie raitas, salads and what not – just something I can throw in the blender and drink up my veggies with minimal effort. (On an aside, I think I should do a series of recipe posts on these.)
And then there’s always the back-up option of having my mom save me one single portion of every veggie I like, every time she makes it. Most of these are made in the usual Punjabi way – slow cooked with love and effort. Too much for me when there’s only one person in my house who will ever eat them. We have a one-way parcel system where she sends me my beloved baingan bhartha, tori, dal-ghiya, swanjana etc. All I have to do is make myself 2 phulkas or a grilled bread patty and I’m sorted! The small pleasures of living in the same city as your mother. Ha!
This recipe was originally written for Archana’s Kitchen, so I’m afraid I can’t do my usual step-by-step photos. But it’s quite easy, so I hope you’ll enjoy it anyway.
Recipe for Sookhi Moong Palak Dal / Whole Green Gram with Spinach
- 1 cup whole moong dal, soaked overnight or at least for 6 hours
- ½ cup boiled & chopped spinach
- 2 tomatoes
- 1-1/2 tablespoons mustard oil
- 1 teaspoon jeera seeds (cumin seeds)
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
- 2 green chillies
- Salt, to taste
- Sliced onions, green chillies and coriander to garnish
- Mixer Grinder
- Iron Kadhai
- To begin, drain the water from the soaked green moong and keep it aside.
- In a mixer-grinder, add the spinach and tomatoes and puree them together. Keep this aside.
- Heat the mustard oil in an iron kadhai and add the jeera seeds to it. When they start sputtering, add the onions and fry until they are soft and lightly browned.
- Add the garlic, ginger and green chillies and saute for a few seconds until aromatic.
- Next, add the spinach-tomato puree along with salt and cook for 2 minutes.
- To this, add the drained dal and cook on high heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
- Reduce the flame to low, cover and cook undisturbed for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and check the to see if the dal is cooked. It should be soft and cooked but still hold its form and have some bite to it.
- At this stage, you can take the lid off completely and cook on low heat until all the liquid has been absorbed/evaporated and the spinach coats the dal, which will take approximately 15 minutes. Ensure that you stir often at this stage to avoid sticking and burning.
- When the dish is done it will be a dark green colour, but the longer it stays in the iron kadhai before serving, the darker (and almost black) it will turn and that’s the way we like it. If you prefer it greener, then remove it from the kadhai as soon as you have turned off the heat.
- Serve the Sookhi Moong Palak Dal garnished with sliced onions, green chillies and coriander alongside Aloo Poori.
- Another good way to eat this dry dal is actually as a base for an Indian-style salad. Once the dal is cool, mix it up with chopped onions, tomatoes, cucumber, green chillies, chopped coriander leaves, chaat masala and lemon juice. It’s filling and delicious and makes a nutritious meal by itself.
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