Thursday, September 6, 2012

Not so spicy, spicy lentil dhal...

I tried a new recipe tonight, which can always be hit or miss .  We try to have at least one meatless meal a week around here, and tonight was that night.  The recipe was for spicy lentil dhal.  

Start with some sesame oil, onion, garlic, and fresh ginger if you have it.  I seem to recall that recipe said two cloves of garlic, but I'm thinking they meant more like 3 or 4.  Everything is better with more garlic.

You also need a cup of red lentils, rinsed and picked over.  So pick out all those funky discolored ones and toss them aside.  
Heat up about 1 tbsp. of the sesame oil over a medium heat.  Finely chop up a cup of onion (I used a bit more), as well as the garlic and ginger.  Toss it all into the oil and cook until the onion becomes translucent.  Savor that wonderful aroma wafting out of the pan and inhale deeply... that smell right there is my favorite aromatherapy.  

Our house is lacking in fresh ginger so instead I added some dry ground ginger in with the rest of the spices.

(1 tsp. coriander, cumin, turmeric, and salt; 1/4 tsp. cardamom, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper)

The recipe calls for just dumping in the four cups of broth, lentils, and spices at this point.  Instead, I tossed in the lentils and tossed them to coat with the oil.  Then I dumped in all my spices (including the ginger), and stirred to coat again.  If it seems too dry just give it an extra splash of oil.

You'll want to let it cook for about three or four minutes, until the spices start to smell nice and toasty.  This really easy extra step will help really imbibe all those awesome flavors into the lentils.  Once that was done I added the broth and brought the whole thing to a boil, covered the pot, and reduced the temperature to a simmer.  I used chicken stock, but if you want the meal completely vegetarian then you can use water or vegetable broth.  When ever I use store bought stock I look for the low/no sodium options, that I way I can have total control over the salt.

While the dhal is doing it's thing, get your rice started.  If you're using brown rice be sure to start a little earlier since it can take longer to cook up.

When the 20 minute simmer is complete, uncover the pot and add 2 tbsp of tomato paste (use a touch more if you're feeling adventurous).  

See that cute little dish- the one over there on the right? It's my new kosher salt bowl.  I'm in love.
Who knew one little vintage looking sugar turned salt dish could make a girl so happy?

Back to the cooking.  Stir that tomato paste in really well, making sure to get rid of any clumps.  After that I just let it continue to simmer, uncovered, until it was the consistency I wanted.

Then you just spoon it up on top of some rice and you've got your self a wonderful, cheap, meatless Indian meal!

The final dish, while none to pretty, tastes divine.  It is packed full of flavor, and fills the belly.  This is definitely going on the list of meatless meals for us, and is one for the recipe box.  I think the only real change for next time will be to up the ante on the cayenne pepper-- 1/4 tsp could barely be tasted. 

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