Until the last Friday of September I had never had a lentil. Never!! But a friend brought a rice/lentil dish to lunch and it was quite tasty. I decided, maybe I like lentils. So when this week’s IHCC

    Let’s hear it for these lens-shaped beauties!

      showed up I knew I would have to try some!

    Masoor dal

Lentils, dried beans, and split peas are known as PULSES and they are a staple in India. They have as much protein as steak. These are red split lentils before cooking – such a beautiful color:

and you can see they turned yellow after cooking as Madjur said they would.

    200 g (1 cup) red split lentils (masoor dal),
    picked over, washed, and drained
    1 liter (4 1/2 cups) water
    2 thin slices unpeeled ginger
    1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
    3 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
    Pinch of ground asafetida (optional)
    1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Combine the lentils and water in a heavy pot. Bring to a simmer. Remove any scum that collects at the top. Add the ginger and turmeric. Stir to mix. Cover, leaving the lid very slightly ajar, turn heat to low, and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours or until the lentils are tender. Stir every 5 minutes during the last 30 minutes to prevent sticking. Add the salt and stir to mix. Remove ginger slices. Put the ghee or oil in a small frying pan and set over medium heat. When hot, put in the asafetida, if using. A second later, put in the cumin seeds. Let the seeds sizzle for a few seconds. Now put in the ground coriander and cayenne.
Stir once and then quickly pour the contents of the frying pan – the ghee and spices – into the pot with the lentils Stir to mix. Sprinkle the cilantro over the top when you serve.

With all the cumin {although I would add more next time} and the ginger {ditto} it was very tasty. Make sure you taste as you go because I needed to add more salt.

While Madhur says to serve these with rice (which I did) or with a meat or vegetable.

The jury is still out on this one. I am not sure if I liked them or not. I am leaning toward yes, but I guess I will just HAVE to try some more lentil dishes. And with 6 months of Jaffrey’s dishes I am sure they will come up again!!

This recipe is from Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking on page 165.

Next week: Everything’s Better with Yogurt

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