What: Split yellow lentils cooked until tender, then beat to a thick creamy consistency, finished with a garlic and butter tarka.
Why: Lentils are good for you, very cheap, super easy to make, and delicious. We also have a lot of dal in the pantry (see left).
How: The process is very simple: 1. Boil lentil in enough water until tender 2. Make a tarka and mix in the cooked lentils.
It’s usually a side dish, and (depending on the type of lentil) the serving size should probably not exceed a cup, or so. Supposedly lentils are easy to digest, but my Julie Sahni cookbook says otherwise. I like to make it into a main dish by serving it with lots of bread (pita bread will work), yogurt, and a salad.
Detailed recipe after the jump…
Lentils with Garlic Butter
From Julie Sahni’s Classic Indian Cooking
1 1/2 c yellow lentils (Toovar dal)
3/4 ts turmeric
2 ts salt (this is way too much!! only add about 1/2 ts and then salt it at the table)
Clean lentils: In a large bowl (I use the stock pot they’ll cook in), pour in lentils then fill with cold water. Swish around vigorously, then allow to settle. Pour water out without a strainer (this allows any skins/husks/misc floating junk to pour out). Repeat until the water is clear (I get impatient around the 3rd change and call it done on the 4th).
Cook lentils: In a large stock pot, add 5 c of water and the lentils. Bring to a boil, then simmer partially covered for 40-45 minutes. Lentils are done when they squish between your fingers. Give a stir every once in a while.
Beat lentils with a wire wisk, off heat, until smooth. I can never get yellow lentils to mush all that much, so don’t strain yourself. The consistency should be similar to a thick breakfast cereal (like cream of wheat/pourridge). If the lentils are floating in water, simmer with the lid off until it cooks down. If too dry, add some water. Now add the salt. This can be kept in the fridge for a few days. Julie also says it can be frozen in this state.
When ready to eat, prepare the tarka. The tarka can be made from almost anything- usually cumin or mustard seeds, ginger or garlic, hot peppers, onions, whatever. Julie’s recipe is just 5 sliced garlic cloves cooked in butter, but S couldn’t restrain himself. Here’s our variation:
In the bottom of a saucepan, heat a few tablespoons of butter. Add a good amount (1 ts or 2?) of cumin seed and stir around a few moments. Add several cloves of sliced garlic, and cook until it’s no longer raw. The rest of the spices include a little cayenne pepper, maybe a touch more of tumeric, perhaps some ground coriander. I can’t remember now what he did. When it’s ready, add in the lentils and stir to combine. Cook until heated through and serve with bread or rice.