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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spinach and Yogurt Daal...so warm and yummy

Now it's February 2012. And I'm still in Cairo, although I've moved neighborhoods. The end of February to March is my favorite time of year in Cairo. The weather is beautiful, meaning you can really explore the city.  I recently moved from Garden City to Mohandiseen, because my dear friend Maya moved back to London. So now it's me, Heather and Biniam in our little flat, which is so cozy and warm, it got us through the hard January winter.... jajajajaaa, just kidding. Obviously I can't complain because the weather never dropped to below 12 degrees celsius... but I pretended I understood the pain when Biniam (from Eritrea) and Heather (from L.A.), complained about the cold.

So, I have some new markets to explore, but I pretty much go to the same ones, my favorite is the vegetable market on Soliman Gohar Street. It's really full of life and the produce has such amazing colour!! I think I'm at the point where I don't get ripped off?? I don't know, but these days with the economy taking a pretty hard hit here in Egypt, it's definitely not a big deal to pay a little more for my fruits and vegetables, considering even if I pay double the price, it's nothing compared to what I'd pay in Nova Scotia.

Anyway. Daal. Lentils are prolific here. I never make lentil soup here because Egyptian lentil soup is undoubtedly the best in the world, in my humble opinion (IMHO in cool kids speak these days), so I only eat it in restaurants or in somebody else's house.  Lentils are cheap and have sooooooo many good things about them!!! I've been making a pretty strong effort to take my health into account lately, for a number of reasons. Number 1, a few of my friends' moms (I don't know where the apostrophes go there, help me out) have been diagnosed with some serious illness, and despite the fact that they are EXTREMELY health conscious, it makes you think right? Second, I'm going to Thailand (TONIGHT!!!) and I'm already tall, but I don't want people poking at my belly like the Pillsbury dough boy. Because they might. Finally, Heather loves vegetables and whole grains, so it's actually pretty easy!

Last night I decided to make lentils with spinach and yogurt, and I think I just ended up making a daal. We served it over a little bit of Egyptian rice (short grain) and some aish baladi (Egyptian pita bread. awesome.)

This is what it looked like. My camera is not for food photography. Let's be honest. But the question is, is it better to post a poor quality photo of food, or no photo at all? I'm struggling with this question.
I put yogurt in it, which is actually optional, but also awesome. So it's your choice. Otherwise this is vegan. And lactose intolerant friendly. And it's always nice to be both of those things, if you can. It's just that I love yogurt so much.  SO MUCH.

Here is when I realized it might be nice to put a photo in for the step-by-step.  Alot of steps had been completed at this point. But this was the point Heather came home and made the suggestion.

Do you like our rustic pots? Our kitchen is pretty rustic on the whole. This photo pretty much captures 1/5 of it.

Next, when we add the beautiful green spinach.


Spinach and Yogurt Daal

1 tbsp oil. Plus that spray oil. I'm trying to calorie reduce here.
1.5 cups red lentils (I'm sure you can use different lentils as well, I just like how fast these cook and how mushy they get)
3.5 cups vegetable broth (plus some water to add if this is not enough)
1 red onion (I actually used 1.5 onions because I needed to use a sad little half sitting in our fridge)
2 cloves garlic
1 small green chilli pepper
3 tomatoes
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
pinch cinnamon and nutmeg if you have either or both
1.5 cups fresh spinach, drained and roughly chopped
2 tbsp plain yogurt, plus extra for dollops on the plate when serving


1) Chop up the onions, garlic, chili, tomatoes and add, in that order, giving about 2 mins time to get to know the pot.
2) Add spices. I think if you have whole cumin seeds, it would be good to put these in. At the beginning. But I didn't have those on hand. Simmer for a few mins.
3) Add lentils, which have been rinsed well. Give it all a good stir, and then go ahead and add the stock.  Cover and cook, about 15 min. But check on it occasionally, they might need more water.
4) Add yogurt and spinach and cook for about 5 mins. Until you can't wait anymore and you need to throw it over some rice, with some broccoli steamed by Heather.

I ate this with baladi bread instead of a fork or spoon. This makes it more delicious, but I can understand that some people (Roddy and Heather) prefer utensils, so really, it's just your personal preference. 

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