Spiced Lentil Stew

"This stuff is so authentically delicious," says the Chinese girl. Seriously, this dish was so tasty without being complicated. I may not know Indian food apart from restaurants and friends' cooking, but I know I liked this recipe.
1 1/2 C (10.5 oz) lentils--I used green although the recipe called for yellow
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 fresh hot green chiles (Serrano), minced (I omitted)
1 tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp firmly packed golden brown sugar
2 Tbsp canola or peanut oil
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 dried red chile (I omitted)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 C minced fresh cilantro (optional)
Pick over the lentils, discarding any stones or misshapen or discolored lentils. Rinse and place in a deep pot. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, green chiles, and 5 C of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a low boil, uncovered, stirring often, until the lentils are very soft, about 50 minutes.

When the lentils are soft, beat them with a wooden spoon to make a chunky puree. Add the tomato, brown sugar, and 1 tsp sugar and mix until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to very low to keep warm while you make the spice mixture.

In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. When hot, add the mustard seeds and cover the pan. When the sputtering stops, after about 30 seconds, uncover and add the dried chile. Continue frying until the chile turns almost black, about 30 seconds longer; using tongs, remove and discard the chile. Add the garlic to the pan, stir briefly, and immediately pour the contents of the pan over the lentils. Mix, ladle into small bowls, and serve at once garnished with the cilantro, if desired. 

Serves 6

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