I am not Indian. I’ve never been to India. I did not learn this recipe at the elbow of a dear friend’s grandmother. I do, however, really appreciate how folks on the Subcontinent contrive to cook legumes so they are flavorful, filling, and satisfying. Without resorting to smoked ham hocks. So here’s my American kitchen version of Sag Daal.
In a large pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for ~45 minutes:
- 1c. split yellow peas (or mung daal, but the yellow peas are 1/3 the price, grown closer to home, and more widely available)
- 4c. water
Stir occasionally, especially toward the end of the cooking time. When the beans are cooked and essentially pureed, add a “whole lot” of chopped raw spinach or kale (8 cups? A bag of spinach? One bunch of kale?). Stir this into the beans so it will wilt.
Sautée the following in a frying pan. Adjust spices to taste…I generally “wing it.”
- 1/4c. oil (yes, really that much…or even more)
- 1 onion, diced or sliced into thin rings
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt (to taste – all beans need a lot of salt)
- 1to 2 tsp. turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder or 3 cloves fresh
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne
- 1/2 tsp. dry ginger or 2 tsp. fresh
- 1/2 tsp. corriander (ground)
- 1/4 tsp. cumin
When the onions are soft, stir the spice mixture into the bean/spinach mixture. Adjust seasonings and serve over rice.