Altho' Indian food is one of my favorite cuisines, I've always been intimidated when it comes to making it. I guess because so many ingredients are very different than my normal cooking experience.That's why I love this recipe. It's really not as complicated as it seems and the abundant flavor is amazing. This came, once again, from our paper about 10 yrs ago.I make it often because it's healthy and delicious.
Place lentils, chiles, turmeric, bay leaves and water in large pot. Bring to boil. Lower heat, simmer 5 mins, stirring often to prevent lumps.Cover partially, cook 30 mins.(Lentils will change from orange to bright yellow during the cooking process - this is normal! :D)
Heat 3 T ghee or oil in fry pan.Saute onions 'til golden. Add tomatoes & ginger to onions.Stir constantly to prevent sticking. Saute 'til tomatoes are soft. Add salt.(I usually cut way back on the salt, and add it later if needed). Blend this mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir into lentils along with the chopped spinach.
In small fry pan, heat 2 T ghee or oil on med-high. Add the mustard, cumin and fennel seeds.When the mustard seeds begin to pop (and the will POP-watch out!) add the pepper flakes. Once the flakes begin to darken (almost immediately), add garlic. Turn the heat off and let the garlic sizzle 'til golden.(I usually remove the pan from the heat to prevent burning the garlic). Add this mix to the dal, mix well. Salt to taste.
Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with saffron rice, steamed rice and/or naan.(recipe posted in my box)