Saturday, August 27, 2011

Reader Entry: Dahl

The next Reader Entry is from my sister, who offered a tasty vegetarian recipe called dahl, an Indian red lentil stew traditionally served over basmati rice, loaded with great flavors and super healthy.

Lentils are so good for you. They are an inexpensive source of protein and fiber. We often ate them in the European style as kids, which included sausages or sliced hot dogs and a little vinegar to bring out their flavor. For the longest time I didn't make them much because I simply didn't know what to do with them. But over the years, as I've come to expand my cooking, I have found them to be so delicious in a variety of different cuisines, especially Indian and North African. And they can be eaten cold as a salad, or warm as in soups and stews.

I have made my sister's Dahl recipe several times, each time slightly differently, experimenting with the level of spices and coconut milk that her recipe calls for. You can reduce the amount of coconut milk if you care for it less rich (something both she and I do), or reducing the amount of broth if you want it more stew-like. I like the cilantro on top. It's also really fast and easy to make so it's great for weeknight cooking. While the lentils cook I make the rest of my dinner, like the rice and perhaps some curried chicken or vegetables.


2 Tbsp. butter or Indian ghee (clarified butter)
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 chopped onion
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. garam masala
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 can diced tomatoes
6 oz. red lentils
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
chopped cilantro and lemon wedges or slices for garnish

Melt butter in a large pot. Add garlic and onion and cook 2-3 minutes. Add the spices and saute for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, lentils, lemon juice, broth, and coconut milk and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes until the lentils are cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste, garnish with the chopped cilantro and lemon wedges or slices.

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