Saturday, September 01, 2007
Red Lentil Dal
I bought a huge bag of darling, vibrantly-hued red lentils at a newly discovered Middle Eastern market, and since then they have sat in my pantry. With no recipe and no inspiration, red lentils aren't exactly something to toss into any old thing I cook.
This brings me to how I decided to finally use some of them. One of the most common questions I am asked about my blog is how I decide what to make and how I create my recipes...so, here is one example.
I have been sick almost all week with a summer cold and last night was still feeling bad and wanted a quiet night at home. With not even enough energy to run to Blockbuster or to grab take-out or go to the grocery store, I was forced to peruse my quite small DVD collection and go pantry diving.
The movie was easy (when you only have 12 choices it's much easier to choose), I decided on Monsoon Wedding, a lush and lovely story of a Punjabi family wedding in New Delhi. This inspired me to cook something vaguely Indian in keeping with the theme and recalling my red lentils, I was off.
Thanks to the following sources, I improvised a delicious and comforting vegetarian meal that soothed and warmed and went great with the movie.
Meeta of What's For Lunch Honey
A recipe from Epicurious
A recipe from Top Indian Recipes.com
An Indian food primer from Meena of Hooked on Heat
Red Lentil Dal:
(serves 4 as a hearty meal)
1 c red lentils (split)
3.5 c water
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced finely
3 garlic cloves, minced finely
1 tsp turmeric
3 small yellow onions, chopped
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
Fresh cilantro for serving
1 c dried white rice, steamed (about 3 cups once cooked)
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring water to a boil, rinse lentils. Add lentils, ginger, garlic, turmeric and salt and pepper to boiling water, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop onions. After lentils have cooked about 15 minutes, heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add cumin and cook until fragrant. Add onions and salt and pepper. Cook onions until softened and translucent.
Add onions to lentil mixture and stir, continue to simmer until thickened to desired consistency and onions and all ingredients are completely incorporated and softened. Adjust salt and pepper to taste before serving. Serve over steamed rice, garnish with cilantro leaves.