Dietitian's tip: Lentils are mainstays in southern India, where pungent spices give distinction to many dishes. If you can't find yellow lentils, use yellow split peas.
- 1 teaspoon white or black sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 cup yellow lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or broth
- 1/2 cup light coconut milk
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves, stemmed and chopped, or 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (fresh coriander)
Toast only the white sesame seeds before using. To toast, place the sesame seeds in a small, dry saute or frying pan over medium heat. Cook briefly, shaking the pan often and watching carefully to prevent burning. Remove the seeds from the pan as soon as they begin to turn brown. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot, ginger, curry powder and turmeric and cook, stirring, until the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the lentils, stock and coconut milk. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially, and simmer until the lentils are tender but still firm, about 12 minutes. The mixture should be brothy; add a little water if needed.
Stir in the spinach, cover and simmer for about 3 minutes longer. The lentils should still hold their shape. Uncover and stir in the salt. Serve hot, garnished with the cilantro and toasted white or untoasted black sesame seeds.