I usually make dal (also called dhal or daal) with spinach. But there was a bunch of collard greens hanging out in my fridge, so I used those instead. Unlike fresh spinach, collards have a better texture when cooked with the lentils. Sambar or Rasam powder adds a lot of flavor to this dish. For those not familiar with Sambar and Rasam powders – they are staples in every south Indian kitchen and made by dry roasting and grinding coriander seeds, red chillies, bengal gram dal, fenugreek and other spices.
Red Lentils (Masoor Dal) – 1/3 cup
Bengal Gram Dal (Channa Dal) – 1/3 cup
Green Gram Dal (Moong Dal) – 1/3 cup
Collard greens – 1 bunch
Tomatoes diced – 1/2 cup. I like Del Monte canned tomatoes with zesty jalapeno
Onion – 1 small
Garlic – 4 cloves
Ginger – 1/2 inch piece, optional
Sambar or Rasam powder – 3 tbsp
Asafoetida – 1 tsp
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Oil – 1 tsp
Finely chop the onion and garlic. Peel the ginger, dont chop it so that you can pull it out at the end of cooking.
Heat a large pot with the oil. Add all the lentils and fry on low heat till the lentils are very slightly brown. To the lentils, add 5 cups of water, salt and turmeric increase heat and bring to a boil. Stir constantly to prevent the lentils from foaming over.
Once the water is boiling, reduce heat to medium low. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and sambar or rasam powder. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
While lentils are cooking, wash the collard greens. Remove the tough talk and veins. Stack up the leaves, roll them tightly and chop into strips.
After 20 minutes, check to see if lentils are done. I dont like them too mushy so I dont let them go more than 20 minutes.
Add the chopped collards into the lentils and cook another 5 minutes until the collards are just wilted. Turn off heat. Pull out the ginger piece. Taste and adjust for salt. Depending on how tart the dal is, add lemon juice accordingly. Sometimes the tomatoes alone will do the trick and you wont need the lemon, so taste first!
You could mix in some chopped cilantro at this point. I prefer not to because they take the attention away from the collard greens.
Serve with rice or rotis.