This dish with its north Indian flavors, spices, and vibrant vegetables transports me back to my childhood in India. My mother cooked delicious lentil stews for the family and the fragrance would fill the house. I used to love eating the lentil bowl with hot Indian flatbread while sitting on the kitchen counter.
I think of this dish as a modern ode to my mother’s lentil bowls back home. Creamy cooked lentils infused with garlic and ginger, along with onions, colorful tender vegetables, freshly sautéed spinach, and a brown rice cake come together as an incredibly flavorful and satisfying meal. Add fresh lemon juice, pink himalayan salt, and cilantro garnish for the perfect finish to the bowl!
1 cup yellow moong lentils
2 teaspoon garlic chopped
1 teaspoon ginger grated
1/4 cup white onion finely chopped
1 zucchini with skin; cut one inch long
10-12 baby rainbow carrots
8 french beans cut one inch long
1 bunch fresh spinach
1 roma tomato pureed
1 cup brown rice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
Pinch of asafoetida ("hing" - available at the local Indian grocery store)
1/2 teaspoon degi mirch
1 teaspoon dhania powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon tumeric
Sea salt to taste
Soak the lentils in a pressure cooker with 4 cups of water, tumeric, and pinch of salt for 30 minutes (if you are in a hurry, this step can be skipped)
Soak the brown rice for 30 minutes (if you are in a hurry, you can skip soaking the rice). Cook the brown rice with 2.5 cups water and pinch of salt for 25 minutes or until tender and all water is evaporated. Let it cool!
Heat the pressure cooker on medium heat and cook the lentils for 2 whistles. Keep it aside.
Chop all the vegetables and keep it aside.
Heat up a non-stick pan on medium heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil gets warm, add the cumin seeds, hing, and cloves. Give it a toss and add the onion followed by ginger and garlic. Saute for one minute and then add the tomato puree. Cook it for about 3-4 minutes. Add the spices and mix everything well. Let the tomato puree cook with spices for one minute.
If the tomato puree is very thick, add a little water to thin it out and cook for a minute on low heat.
Open the pressure cooker and stir the cooked lentils. Pour the cooked tomato puree with the lentils and give it a toss. Let them cook together for 10 minutes on low heat.
Take another non-stick pan and stir-fry the zuchini with slight water until tender. Par boil the carrots and french beans. Make sure the vegetables are tender and not mushy.
Add the vegetables to the lentil pot along with some finely chopped cilantro. Keep it aside.
At the serving time, saute a fistful of fresh spinach leaves with a teaspoon of water. Sprinkle himalyan salt and squeeze some fresh lemon juice on it.
Form brown rice cakes. I usually use a ring mold or a 1/3 stainless stell measuring cup, fill up brown rice and press it down with a spoon. Then gently take them out on a plate and decorate a cilantro leaf on them.
For Serving: Pour a ladle of lentils with vegetables, place spinach in the middle, and top it off with the brown rice cakes. Sprinkle fresh lemon juice and himalayan salt onto the lentils. Enjoy!