Curried Red Lentils

  • 2 C red lentils (masoor dal), rinsed in several changes of cold water
  • 2 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
  • 4 coins of ginger
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 yellow onion

In about 3-4 C of water, cook the lentils along with the aromatics for about 10-15 minutes until just slightly underdone. Remove from the heat and salt the water generously and let sit for 20 minutes.  When ready to use, drain, remove the aromatics (except red pepper flakes) and add to pot.

  • 5 large cloves of garlic
  • 3″ piece of peeled ginger, coarsley chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1/2 t kalonji (nigella) seeds
  • 1/2 t cumin seeds
  • 1/2 t fennel seeds
  • 2 t of your favourite curry powder, or more to taste. I like a Madras curry powder.
  • 1 qt tomatoes (home canned if possible)
  • 3/4-1 C of either cream, half & half or plain yoghurt, or a combination of those, to taste (optional)
  • 1 t garam masala*
  • chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Purée the garlic, ginger and onion with a little water until a thick, smooth paste forms. Toast the whole spices in some ghee or oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until toasted, 1-2 minutes and then add in the curry powder and cook about 30 seconds until brown. Add in the garlic-ginger-onion paste and sauté until very thick and reduced by at least half. Add in the tomatoes and cook until the juices have reduced somewhat. Next add in the cooked lentils and continue to cook until the lentils are quite soft. Check for salt, and stir in the garam masala and cream/yoghurt and remove from the heat. Serve over rice and top with chopped cilantro and more garam masala if desired.

*I prefer to make my own garam masala (and often curry powders) from whole spices. Whole spices are extremely inexpensive when purchased either online or in a Indian (or similar) grocery store in bulk. I keep my whole spices in glass jars in a cool pantry and they last for years. I keep a large variety of spices that are useful for Indian, SE Asian, Mexican, and many other types of recipes on hand so I can toast and grind them fresh when I need them. The flavour is far superior to store-bought spices and it is way cheaper.


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