Dal With Spinach & Grilled Paneer

I was leafing through an old issue of Good Food magazine and came across a recipe that I liked. Looking at the photo I felt that something so simple could still be made with a little twist and get a whole new look. Dal is a staple in most Indian homes and we also like to add all kinds of vegetables and leafy greens in it. Chunky pieces of bottle gourd, tender stems of amaranth and other leafy greens, drumsticks, teasle gourds, all happily find their way into my pot of dal. But this one had paneer, not cooked with it but it was added in the end. Here goes…although the recipe is from the magazine, I made a few adaptations.
1 cup arhar dal/pigeon peas
1 tbsp olive oil
1 crushed and chopped garlic
1 medium onion, finely chopped
A quarter tsp grated ginger
1 medium tomato, chopped
Pinch of roasted and ground cumin powder
Pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste
1 green chilli, scored lengthwise
100 grams spinach leaves, washed and drained
Coriander leaves for the garnish
200 grams paneer, cubed
Spice rub for the paneer (optional) I used a mix of ginger and garlic

Wash and soak the dal for about 10 minutes. Cook in very little water in a pressure cooker till one whistle goes off. The dal must not be mushy.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions, garlic, chilli, and ginger. Cook for a couple of minutes then add the tomatoes and the other spices. Season with salt. When the tomatoes are cooked, add the spinach leaves and cook till they wilt. This will take about 2 minutes.
Add the cooked dal and give it a gentle stir. Take it off the heat.

Heat the oven to 200C. Rub the paneer cubes with the spices and place them on a tray lined with a baking sheet. Grill for about 7 minutes turning once in between.
Divide the dal between 2 bowls and top with the grilled paneer.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

This went very well with whole-wheat rotis that I made by adding yeast. The recipe in the magazine had red lentils and coconut milk. The lentils were cooked unlike how dal is usually cooked but I’m happy with my dish.

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