Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Great Eats: An Everyday Masoor Dal (Simple, Quick, Curried Red Lentil)

Even as I found much success in cooking Thai, and as fluent as I am becoming in all things curried and spicy, Indian food, as a whole, is still a daunting concept to me. Sure, I've dappled with it, but my experience and repertoire is limited to a handful of tasty, mushy curries that a authentic, but simplified for an American palette. 

All this didn't stop me from picking up a 5 pound bag of Masoor Dal at my local awesome Indian grocer. Sure, I hardly eat lentils and am still struggling to add them to my diet, but I just had to have them. So I hauled them home along with a 10 pound bag of Basmati rice, some naan, roti, canned sweetened mango deliciousness, yogurt and other goods (not having a car is great when I go wild in an import store), put them away and proceeded to do nothing with them for months. I've actually almost eaten through the bag of rice before I decided to finally do something about them and realized: I've no clue what to do!

Off to the Googles. 30 or so minutes later I had a plan. A delicious plan.
This is dead simple and very accessible to any well-stocked kitchen.

1 cup Masoor Dal, or red lentils
1 tbs oil or ghee
1 onion, diced
1 tsp salt
1.25 tsp turmeric
1.5 tsp Garam Masala
Crushed red pepper or chili powder, to taste
1/2 tsp cumin seeds or 3/4 tsp cumin powder
4 cloves, garlic - minced
1 green chile, seeds removed and diced - optional
1.25 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and diced finely

Rinse your lentils. Add the oil or butter to a medium sized sauce pan and add the onion when hot. Cook the onion until soft and then add the lentils. Cover with an inch of water and bring to a boil. Add the spices and seasonings. When water boils, lower heat and simmer until water is absorbed and lentils are soft. Mine took less than 10 minutes!

And that's it! Enjoy with some fragrant basmati rice. And don't forget to share!

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