I have always loved spinach and broccoli. Ever since I was young, I remember not understanding why all of the kids in my small on-the-cusp-of-rural town in central Illinois hated spinach and broccoli. Then I spent the night at my friend’s house, whose mom kindly made me boiled spinach and broccoli in recognition of my love of the two. I remember thinking oh, no, sorry, I don’t like THAT. So imagine the irony when early in my relationship with the Kiwi he told me he wasn’t a fan of spinach. I knew I could make him like it after all he hadn’t had my mom’s spicy spinach with yellow lentils dish. Of course I didn’t want to freak him out so early in the relationship so I wisely kept my mouth shut and nodded the whole time waiting until the moment when I could launch my world-turning spinach dish at him. Well, folks the time has come. In the interest of full disclosure, he has now accepted spinach blended into a spicy tomato sauce we make for pasta. So his aversion is no longer as strong as it was earlier on, but I wasn’t sure if I could make a pure spinach based dish that he would like.
Making this is relatively straightforward and there are a ton of variations to the recipe. You can add tomatoes, onions and garlic, use cumin instead of mustard seeds. You could even use a different lentil but I prefer the moong dal and if you have made khichiri recently you probably already have moong dal available. The possibilities are endless. When we were younger we used to have it with chopped frozen spinach. I think that might be because in pre-foodie America it was hard to find fresh spinach. But nowadays my mom makes it with fresh spinach.
The only possible hiccup is the asafetida. When they say a small pinch, they mean a very very small pinch. The first time I ever used asafetida in a dish, my mom actually told me the same thing–a smaller pinch than you can imagine. I, of course, put in a little bit more and it completely overpowered the dish and not in a good way. So, anyway, small pinch of asafetida.
We had this with brown pita (I was too lazy to make fresh rotlis—another Indian flatbread—a recipe for another blog post) and of course, yogurt, since I think yogurt makes everything better.
The verdict: The Kiwi actually liked it. He said he liked the spinach with the yogurt and pita. Victory! Now, I don’t have illusions that the dish will make his all time top 10 dishes. Heck, I don’t think it would make his top 10 Indian dish list. But progress.
5 ½ c chopped fresh spinach (you can use frozen chopped spinach)
½ c moong dal (you can use ¼ c if you want it to be more spinach-y)
¼ t turmeric
¼ t red chilli powder (you may want to use less, but both Kiwi and I like our food spicy)
1 t mustard seeds
small pinch of asafetida (hing)
1 T oil
Wash the moong dal and soak in hot water. While moong dal is soaking, pour oil into a pan on high heat, pour oil into a pan. After a few seconds, add the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds start popping, drain the moong dal of the water and add to the pan. Stir a few times, then add turmeric, red chili powder, salt, asafetida, and spinach. Stir. Turn heat to low and cover. Stir it once in a while, until spinach is fully cooked.