When you hear the word comfort food, you probably think of mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and chocolate chip cookies. I do too. I also think Indian food with fresh, hot naan bread. Sundays are curry day in our house. Almost every Sunday my husband throws together a curry while I read to him. We also love to go out to eat at Indian restaurants. Many happy memories are associated with Indian food. Perhaps that is why Indian food warms my heart so.
Daal is basically a stew of lentils. It can be eaten like a soup or served with rice. I prefer it with brown basmati rice and some hot naan bread. I have a killer naan bread recipe and you can see it HERE. The best thing about this daal recipe is that it is made in the crock pot. I am obsessed with my crock pot. My daughter is cutting 3 molars and has been really clingy lately and in order to get dinner on the table, I do as much dinner prep as I can during her morning nap. I love it when I can get dinner completely ready and cooking away in the crock pot during that time. My husband is also a medical student and in a trauma surgery rotation and I never know when he is going to get home in the evening. I love having a hot meal waiting in the crock pot for when he gets home. If he isn’t home when its done, I just flip it to warm until he gets home.
This crockpot recipe requires whole spices. I buy large quantities of spices at an Indian market near my home, but you can probably find these spices at most grocery stores. When I lived in Idaho in a town without an Indian store, I was able to find a lot of whole spices at a Mexican import store or in the Hispanic section of the grocery store. Spices in their whole form keep for a lot longer ground spices. We have a little coffee grinder that we use solely for grinding spices. There is nothing better than toasted whole cumin, mustard seed, and coriander. Best smell in the world.
- 1 C. dried lentils
- 4 C. water
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil or butter
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp. mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp. coriander seeds
- 1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp. curry powder (or to taste)
- 1 or 2 Serrano chilies (depending on how spicy you want it), seeded and finely chopped
- 3 large tomatoes, chopped (or 1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes)
- 2 tsp. salt or to taste
- 3 big handfuls of spinach
- 4-6 oz. mushrooms, quartered or sliced
- 1/3 C. whole milk (you could easily make this vegan by using soy, almond, or coconut milk. Or just leave out the milk. To make it extra yummy, use cream!)
- fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish
1. Rinse lentils and pick out any deformed lentils or little stones. Place them in the crock pot with the water. Cook on low for 4-5 hours, until lentils are soft. While the lentils are cooking, prep all the other ingredients for later use.
2. In a pan, heat the butter or oil. When its hot, add the onions and cook until the they are soft. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, ginger, chilies, curry powder and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes longer. Add the mushrooms and tomatos and cook for a few more minutes. You can do this step ahead of time and refrigerate until later, or do this prep work at the end right before adding it to the crock pot.
3. Once the lentils are tender, add the sautéed onion and spice mixture to the pot. Add the spinach, salt, and milk. Stir and let cook for at least 15 minutes, but up to an hour longer. You really just want to heat all the ingredients through, but it wont hurt it to cook a little longer. Taste one last time and add more curry powder and salt if needed.
4. Serve hot over rice with warm naan bread.
Recipe by Edible Experiments