Unfortunately, my post-markets exuberance from a few weeks back didn’t really translate into the wealth of bloggable recipes that I’d hoped, mainly because I feel like we’ve been a bit snowed in, so to speak, with winter maladies and discomforts and other boring distractions. But now, revived by a break away from our everyday, I feel like I can share some of the highlights of the past few weeks’ eating and cooking.

First, this recipe which a friend pointed me to, that ingeniously adds baby spinach to a tomato-based red lentil dhal. Tasty, colourful and super healthy.

Less healthy, and probably as inauthentically Indian as stirring in spinach leaves into a dhal, is the notion of marinating haloumi to have on the side. But cast aside your scorn and scepticism: it’s great. It would probably work with the more authentic paneer if you have access to the top-notch fresh variety (or have made some yourself), but if you’re tossing up between supermarket paneer or supermarket haloumi, I say go for the latter, as the dense saltiness really works here.

Spinach and tomato dhal with spiced haloumi
Adapted from Delicious

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4cm piece fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp ground turmeric
200g red lentils, rinsed and drained
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 cups light vegetable stock or water
1 tbsp garam masala
150g baby spinach, washed
1 packet of haloumi
1 tsp curry powder

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 mnutes until softened. Stir in the garlic and 3/4 of the grated ginger and cook for another minute until fragrant. Add turmeric and lentils, tomatoes and 300mL of the stock or water. Bring to the boil, and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the remaining stock or water, and simmer on low heat until the lentils are tender.

Meanwhile, cut the haloumi into 5mm thick strips, and place into a bowl with the remaining grated ginger and the curry powder. Stir well to coat the haloumi in the paste.

When ready to serve, add the garam masala, baby spinach and a pinch of salt to the dhal. Stir well, take off the heat and leave covered for 2 minutes to wilt the spinach. While the spinach is wilting, dry fry the haloumi strips in a hot non-stick frying pan until brown on all sides.

Serve the dhal with some basmati rice and the haloumi strips on top.

Yield: serves 4