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Lentil, Potato & Spinach Curry (Garam Masala)

This vegetarian curry gets a boost of spicy sweetness from the classic Indian seasoning known as garam masala, whose name comes from the Hindi garam (“hot”) and masala (“mixture”). The spice medley, whose components vary from region to region, actually imparts only mild heat, as the word garam refers to the intensity of the spices and not the heat.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 lb. green lentils, picked over
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. garam masala
  • 2 large red-skinned potatoes, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 2 packed cups baby spinach
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Steamed white or brown basmati rice for serving
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt

Directions:

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the lentils and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender and the liquid has been absorbed, 30 to 35 minutes. Set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and sauté until browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and garam masala and stir until the spices are toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the potatoes, cooked lentils and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until it wilts, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the rice into bowls and top with the vegetable curry. Garnish with the yogurt and serve. Makes 4 servings

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Vegetarian, by Dana Jacobi (Oxmoor House, 2007).