Time is a-ticking. Less than a week left in Houston. We have been balancing DO.ALL.THE.THINGS left to do in Houston and DO.ALL.THE.PACKING. Lots of pantry-friendly meals this month as we eat through our kitchen.
We stopped replenishing the red lentils months ago and begrudgingly started eating through the toor dal. Not that we don’t love it (WE LOVE TOOR DAL) but it just takes longer to cook and time is something we are lacking right now.
We left a few Houston must-dos until the end. I finally went to the NASA Space Center, lured by a private tour by an astronaut. An astronaut with a PhD in Cancer Biology, which was right up my alley, as she explained the medical complications of space travel. And let us touch and feel the space stuff. But not wear the space suits, sadly. Astronauts ARE a science experiment in themselves, did you know? They also do deadlifts and squats in space to maintain their bone density.
We also went to Chinatown to eat at one of the rival Malaysian restaurants, complete with the suggested one-hour foot massage for only $20-25 at the neighbouring reflexology spas. It is the thing to do, I swear.
That experience was also our first (and hopefully last) experience with Houston rush hour traffic.
Also, kudos to the American pharmacies. “Yellow Fever Vaccine Now Here”. I can easily obtain travel immunizations without an appointment or a puncture fee. Vaccines tend to be controversial but it is not controversial for me: I would rather not get infected. So I finally got my hepatitis A shots and re-immunized myself against typhoid for my upcoming vacation.
So, about this curry. It is simple, yet delicious. Lightly spices with all the great Indian spices (cumin, coriander, garam masala) and lightened with a splash of lemon juice, it is a nice hearty meal. An easy way to easily add more spinach, too.
I haven’t really gone into too much detail why I am pro-vaccine (the main reason is the ability to prevent serious diseases, some of which are incurable, which I believe outweighs the potential side effects from receiving the vaccine). Do you have strong opinions either way?
Toor Dal Curry with Spinach (Toor Palak Dal)
Adapted from Lisa’s Vegetarian Kitchen
1 cup toor dal or yellow split peas (red lentils could work, too)
1 tbsp coconut oil (or your choice of oil)
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1 large tomato, cut into 8 or 12 thin wedges (heaping 1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp Aleppo chile flakes
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 bunch fresh spinach, trimmed and chopped (330g, prepped)
juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp garam masala
1. Rinse toor dal and drain. Place in a medium-large saucepan over high heat along with water to cover by 1″. Once boiling, reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer for approximately one hour, or until cooked through and softened. Watch to make sure you don’t run out of water. Remove from heat. If a lot of water remains, drain it but leave around 1/4 cup.
2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, heat oil. Add cumin seeds and fry for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the asafoetida and brown for no more than 10 seconds, then deglaze with the tomato and 1/4-1/2 cup water and add the chile flakes, coriander and turmeric. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes, stir in the spinach, cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes until the spinach turns a brilliant green.
3. Stir the spinach mixture into the toor dal and return the pot to medium-low heat. Stir in the lemon juice, salt and garam masala. Cook until you reach your desired consistency. Mine was rather soupy but that’s the way I like it! :) Garnish with cilantro, if desired. Serve with rice or naan.