Spicy Red Lentils – a little ray of sunshine on a winters day
With a good dusting of snow outside this weekend, I’m in need of some comfort food… a little bit of colour to bring some warmth to the unwelcome winter revival. A bowl of hot and spicy red lentils should do the trick.
Daal is the Hindi word for any type of lentil. The small red variety are a larder staple around the world. They’re actually known as Masoor daal in Hindi. In my house they’re known as “orange daal” because my kids never really learnt the proper Indian names!).
In restaurants you’ll sometimes see all kinds of daal listed as “tarka daal”. Tarka just means “seasoning”, with a basic paste made from onion, ginger and garlic in this case.
Spicy red lentils are very much an everyday Indian food. They’re nutritious, and quick and easy too. Give it a go – I promise you’ll never think of lentils as bland hippie food ever again!
There’s a little video too to help you out here, and you can also find the recipe in full below. Stay warm..
1 cup red lentils (masoor daal)
1 small onion, chopped
1 inch fresh root ginger, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli, sliced whole (optional)
1 tomato, chopped
juice of half lemon
2 Tbs olive oil Or 1/4 tsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 heaped tsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 – 1 tsp chilli powder
1 – 2 tsp salt
Fresh coriander (small hand-full chopped)
special kitchen things:
a pot with fitted lid
a small trying pan
a flat mixing spoon
1. Wash, peel and chop onion, ginger and garlic.
2. Wash lentils (repeat roughly three times until the water is clear) to remove the starch.
3. Add three cups water to daal, with 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ghee or oil, and 1 tsp salt. Mix and bring to the boil on a high heat, with the lid off the pot. You’ll see a frothy build up which you want to bring to the top of the pot.
Before it boils over – turn the heat down to a slow simmer and put the lid on the pot. The daal will take around 10-15 minutes to cook and mix into a soupy consistency. Keep it on the back burner while you make the “tarka”.
4. Tarka: in a hot frying pan, heat 2 tsp ghee or oil (no smoking oil). Throw in cumin seeds and let them sizzle and brown.
5. Add onions, ginger and garlic and cook slowly till lightly golden brown.
6. Add all remaining spices to the frying pan, mix and the add a little water and tomato. You want to get a “paste like consistency so cook slowly and mash up tomatoes as they soften. (approx 10 minutes). You know when it’s ready when the ghee/oil separates from the tarka mix.
7. When daal looks cooked too, simply add the tarka to the pot and give it a good mix. Cook for a few minutes, add a squeeze of lemon, garnish with fresh coriander and eat. If the daal looks too thick – just add a little hot water.
8. Serve while it’s hot with bread, naan bread or chappaties.