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Spicy Spinach Dahl

4 Jun

This dish combines my love for beans, Indian flavor and some heat. Dahl or dal is a generic name for a stew made from lentils, peas, or beans. It can be prepared in an almost infinite number of ways. I have been working on this recipe for some time now and think it is just about perfect.

This particular recipe calls for chili powder, turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin, garam masala, cayenne, and salt to give it that warm and rich taste.

I used coconut oil instead of olive oil or butter, because it adds a richness to the flavor. After heating the oil up in the pan, I add the spices and let them cook until they are highly aromatic.

I love that this dish also has plenty of spinach! It not only adds color but also vitamins and flavor.

Spicy Spinach Dahl

(makes approximately 6 servings)


  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil (olive oil or butter can be substituted)
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, optional
  • 12 ounces spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk


  1. Soak the lentils in water for 20 minutes.
  2. In a deep saute pan or large saucepan, bring water, lentils, turmeric, salt, and chili powder to boil.
  3. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. In a separate saute pan, add oil, garam masala, mustard seed, and cumin, heat until the spices are bubbly and highly aromatic.
  5. Add onion to the spices and add a pinch of salt.
  6. Cook until the onion is soft and transparent.
  7. Add the spinach to the lentils and let cook for about 5 minutes.
  8. Add onion and coconut milk to the lentil and cook until heated through out.
  9. Serve with rice.

Mona’s Mjadara

6 Oct

I was more than a little intimated when I first started dating Daniel, his mother Mona is an excellent cook. Born and raised in Lebanon Mona grew up cooking traditional Lebanese dishes that can knock your socks off. Daniel insisted that if I were to be a good Lebanese wife that I learn all of his favorite dishes. Although my cooking lessons with Mona were disastrous at first (she measures tablespoons with what ever spoon is handy), I have come to master certain dishes and Mjadara is one of my staples. Daniel insists that we have Mjadara a couple of times a month.

Mjadara is a lentil and rice dish that is hearty, healthy, vegan and easy to make.

Start by cooking the lentils, add 2 cups of lentils to 6 cups of water in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until lentils are soft. Do not add salt to the water as it will harden the beans.

While the lentils are cooking, dice a large sweet onion. In a deep saute pan heat olive oil and then add diced onion. Cook onion on medium high heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, then reduce heat to medium till onion is golden and soft.

When lentils are tender and soft turn the heat off. At this point you have two options, use an immersion blender to puree the lentils in the pot or use a blender or food processor.Add the sautéed onions to the lentil puree and add basmati rice. Cook until rice softens, then bring to a boil. Add salt and serve.

Mona’s Mjadara

2 cups dry lentils (french green)

6  cups of water

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 large sweet onion

1/4 cup basmati rice

salt to taste

  1. Add lentils to water in large stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer till lentils are soft.
  2. Dice onion and add with olive oil in a large saute pan. Saute till onion is golden and soft ( approx. 15 minutes).
  3. Puree lentils with Immersion blender, add sautéed onions and rice. Stir and cook till rice is soft. Bring slowly to a boil and then add salt.
  4. Serve with warm pita bread and cabbage salad .

I love to use the pita bread to scoop the Mjadara and eat without a fork. The leftover are great wrapped up in a pita to make a sandwich.