This "meaty" vegetarian recipe can feed a party or be eaten during the week over rice.
Make ahead: The lentils need to be soaked overnight. The finished dish can be refrigerated for up to five days or frozen in 1-quart heavy-duty resealable plastic food storage bags for up to three months. 20 servings. From Violet Dorai Singh and Daniel Phoenix Singh.
> Lentils and Spinach
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
5 tablespoons minced garlic
4 to 6 serrano or small jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced (3 tablespoons)
3 medium red onions, minced (about 3 1/2 cups)
2 pounds dried lentils, soaked (see headnote)
3 1/2 cups water
1 or 2 tablespoons cumin seed, or to taste
10 whole small red dried chili peppers
3 to 5 tablespoons mild curry powder, or to taste
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons red chili powder (preferably Indian), or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt, or to taste
4 pounds frozen chopped spinach
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and serrano or jalapeno peppers; cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the onions and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are just beginning to caramelize.
Add the lentils, discarding any excess soaking liquid. Stir to incorporate, then stir in 1 1/2 cups of the water, the cumin seed (to taste), the whole chili peppers, curry powder, red chili powder and salt. Once the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, stir in 1/2 cup water.
Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The lentils should be fairly tender.