Sunday, February 21, 2010

Red Lentil Dal as Comfort Food

One day my middle child was home from school sick. I don't recall what disease he had, but it was the kind where they don't really have that bad of a fever, but they feel miserable and don't want to eat much. That was the day I decided that I would try making this new recipe I found for Dal. I offered it to middle child, who at the time lived on air alone, but for some reason said he would try it. He loved it! So from then on whenever he was sick he would ask me to make some for him.

Dal is an Indian dish usually made with lentils. Red lentils are really misnamed because they are orange-colored dried in the bag, and cook up yellow. Red lentils do not have the earthy taste of regular brown ones, so if you don't like brown try red.

The original recipe called for onions 3 different ways, one portioned sautéd until almost caramelized, one portion cooked slightly and finally a couple tablespoons tossed on at the end as garnish. I cut out the last two ways to save time, and since I an not a purist I really didn't miss them. I used veggie broth to make it parve.

It also calls for basmati rice, but if you use regular ol' white or brown rice I won't tell a soul.

As for the jalapeño, if you don't like heat, simply leave it out. But don't leave out the tomatoes and cilantro because they really jazz up the lentils. All right, you can leave out the tomatoes if you have a picky kid, but use the cilantro. And buy the fresh stuff! I haven't found a dried version yet that has any taste at all.

Red Lentil Dal
Serves 4

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dried red lentils
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup basmati rice, cooked
2 plum tomatoes, seeded & chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded & chopped

In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute about 5 minutes or until onions are tender.

Add broth, lentils, turmeric, cumin and ginger. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon rice into individual bowls. Spoon dal over rice. Top with tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeño pepper.

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