This dish is a vegetarian version of a stew from Afghanistan, Quince Stew or Qorma-e-Behi. It uses lentils in place of the non-vegetarian items. It is a perfect Winter dish, fragrant from the quinces, and comforting and warming. Deeply, deeply warming.
I often use soft chard or other greens in this dish in place of the spinach, it works just as well.
Always on the hunt for wonderful ways to use quinces, I found a vegetarian version of the Afghani Quince recipe in Persepolis. I’ve tweaked it a little.
Quince and Split Pea Stew | Channa Dal with Quinces
0.75 cups channa dal or chickpeas
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 sticks celery, cut into chunks
olive oil or ghee
0.5 tspn turmeric powder
1 tspn ginger powder
2 quinces, peeled, quartered, cored, and cut into chunks or thick slices
2 tspns tomato paste (or use home made tomato paste – about 0.25 cup or so)
1 bunch spinach or soft chard
750 ml water
coriander leaves and stems, chopped
sugar and/or lemon juice, to taste (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Soak the channa dal or chickpeas for at least 30 mins, preferably overnight. Drain.
Saute the onion and celery in the ghee or oil until they have softened. Then add the turmeric and ginger powders and the channa dal or chickpeas. Saute them for a few minutes, then add 750 ml water.
Bring the dal to the boil and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the quince pieces, tomato paste and coriander leaves and stems. Cook for around 30 or 40 mins until the quince is just cooked and the channa dal or chickpeas are soft.
Remove the stems from the spinach and chop them. Shred the leaves. Add the stems to the stew for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Then add the spinach and stir it into the stew.
Season with salt and pepper.
Taste, add some sugar if it is a little tart, and a squeeze of lemon if it needs a tang. Adjust seasonings. Turn the heat off, place the lid on and allow flavours to develop for 5 – 10 mins, then serve with Basmati rice and thick, plain yoghurt.