red lentil dhal

Lentils. Other than putting them in soups, I wasn't sure what to do with them until I found this great recipe. I found red lentils (or dhal) in the indian section of our supermarket.

There are a lot of different spices in this recipe. I have to admit, I don't toast them as the recipe calls for. Sometimes I don't even have some of the spices available (like cloves or cardomom) and it still tastes good. I buy the spices already ground down (faux pas I'm sure) and I make a big batch of the spice blend and store it in an airtight container. That way I save time when I make it.

I don't know why but I never have tomato paste kicking around the house. I hate that I only need 1-2 Tbsp and I have to open a can of tomato paste and then it just goes to waste. So my secret substitute solution... uhhh, ketchup. Yup. What can I say... gourmet is my middle name.

And sometimes I don't have tomatoes so I either use canned or stewed tomatoes or I have even used salsa. I'm the substituting queen and you know what, it works out ever time. Oh yeah, we always omit the cilantro, my honey isn't a big fan of it. But I've used kale and chopped spinach before. The picture above doesn't have any greens added.

I make this recipe often. If you are craving Indian food, this is a winner. Plus, it's healthy, can't beat that.


Red Lentil Dhalmakes 6-8 servings

Toasting and grinding your seeds is so worth the effort, and doesn't take long at all. Serve this dhal as a main dish with rice or as a side dish. It is aromatic, rich and delicious.

Coffe grinder or spice millor mortar and pestle, saute pan, large, soup pot

3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 medium yellow onion
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried red lentils
2 tablespoon tomato paste
4-5 cups water or veg broth
5 plum tomatoes, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 cup lightly packed chopped fresh cilantro

Spice blend
2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 whole cloves
4 cardomom pods

2 dried red chilis (seeds removed)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a saute pan over medium heat, toast the seeds (but not the dried red chili) for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from pan and let cool. Transfer to coffee grinder, aling with the dried red chili and cinnamon, and grind to a fine powder.

Over medium-high heat oil a soup pot, add onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and saute 5 more minutes. Add spices and salt, saute 5 minutes more.

Add 4 cups of water and stir to deglaze the pot. Add tomato paste and lentils. Bring to a boil then lower the heat a bit and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, lime juice and cilantro and more water if it looks to thick. Simmer 10 more minutes, or until lentils are completely tender.

Recipe: Red Lentil Dhal: Post Punk Kitchen