South Indian Spinach and Lentil Soup

Recipe courtesy of Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet by Padma Lakshmi/Weinstein Books, 2007.

South Indian Spinach and Lentil Soup

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    1 cup orange (masoor) lentils 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    3 cups spinach, steamed, chopped, and drained 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    2 or 3 dried red chilies (3 inches long) 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
    2 tablespoons yellow (urad) lentils Salt
    1 cup grated unsweetened coconut


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    • 1

      Soak masoor lentils for 2 to 3 hours in tepid water. Drain and wash until water runs clear.

    • 2

      Boil the lentils in 4 cups of water with a bit of salt until they are soft and mushy.You may need to add more water.That should take 30 to 40 minutes over medium heat, maintaining a constant rolling gentle boil. Make sure to skim away any foam off the top with a spoon.

    • 3

      Once the lentils are soft, take a wooden spoon or mallet, and mash them until they form a gravy-like, thick liquid. It’s fine if some lentils remain coarse.

    • 4

      Squeeze excess moisture out of the spinach and add to the lentils. Mix well, adjusting salt to taste, if needed.

    • 5

      In a wok or small frying pan, dry-roast the red dry chilies with the urad lentils.This should take just 4 minutes in a hot pan on medium heat. The lentils should be toasted golden brown.

    • 6

      In a blender or processor, puree the roasted urads and chilies; add the coconut and make
      a smooth mixture. Add this to the masoor lentils and spinach, and continue boiling gently for a bit.

    • 7

      Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat.When the oil is hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds.When the seeds start to crackle and pop out of the pan, turn off the heat, and pour the seeds and oil into the lentils. Stir and serve hot.

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