Spinach Soup ( Daal)

This Spinach Daal is a Classic Indian recipe, a staple in most Indian house holds for centuries. I have added spinach - also called Palak in India, to this daal, but this soup tastes great even without the spinach. ." Daal" means "boiled lentils". This recipe combines lentils and spring spinach to make a simple, delicious dish that may be served with rice or bread. If you can't get hold of fresh spinach, frozen can be used as well.
The recipe includes garlic, ginger, and turmeric which have been shown to contain cancer-fighting substances. Lentils are full of protien, and so this easy-to-make, delicious dish is a super health-booster, too. What a great combination: healthy, full of protein and fabulous flavors, and it also happens to be vegan!
Serves 4-6

1 cup white urid or urad daal (Ivory letils) - or any other lentil of your choice, picked over and rinsed
6 cups water, plus more if needed
1/2 pound spinach, washed and finely chopped (preferably fresh, but frozen can work)
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 medium green chilli peppers, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1fresh or dry red chilli 
2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced (optional)
a pinch of asafetida ;
more salt to taste
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

In a large pot over medium - high heat combine the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, then add ginger, turmeric, 3/4 of the green chiles, and all of the tomatoes, if using. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the lentils are extremely soft. You may need to add a bit more water during the cooking process to keep the lentils soupy. Use an immersion blender to make a smooth consistency. Add spinach, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir in the salt.
In a separate pan, heat the butter or oil, mustard and cumin and fry until the cumin seeds start to pop. Now add garlic, and remaining green chilis, red chili (and asafetida if you're using it) and fry for another 1 minute, till golden. Taste and add more asafetida if you like. Add this butter mixture to the lentils and allow to cook for another five minutes. Taste, and season with more salt if needed. I also enjoyed a touch of lemon juice added at this point. Serve topped with the cilantro.
Eat as a soup, or serve with rice or roti.

This Delicious daal is extremely healthy and nutritious. Try substituting the spinach with a big bunch of dill, or 1/2 lb kale, or mustard leaves - for a variation.  Substitute the garlic with a quarter chopped onion or use both.

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