The recipe for this rather well-recieved Vegan dal dish was mooched from Khalid Aziz' Encyclopedia of Indian Cooking, ISBN 1-8547-1026-5, which gives it the dismayingly prosaic and unacceptably vague name "Indian Lentils."
Since I have never faithfully followed Aziz' recipe, I shall describe my own hacked, compromised, and roughly doubled version instead. The ingredients list looks a little daunting, but its not bad if you've already made the jump of acquiring a basic indian spice collection. If not, what are you waiting for?
- About a pound of pink lentils
- Two onions
- Some garlic. I used about two tablespoons of minced.
- Three or four ounces of cooking oil. Aziz recommends ghee. Once upon a time I bought ghee--perhaps someday I'll use it. :-(
- two tablespoons of coriander
- two tablespoons of cumin
- one tablespoon of turmeric (Aziz said more, but I overrode him)
- one tablespoon cayenne
- I find life less stressful if I take all these dry seasonings and measure them into a bowl in advance. Otherwise, I end up frantically juggling measuring spoons while something scorches.
- One tablespoon of powdered cardamom (the recipe called for pods, but no pods did I have
- Ten cloves
- two sticks of cinnamon
- These I put in another bowl.
- One tablespoon salt, or to taste (I didn't measure)
- Half a can of coconut milk.
- A few tomatoes.
Meanwhile, chop up those onions and garlic, and fry them in the oil. when they've started to soften (two or three minutes), add the first batch of spices, and fry for another minute or two. Then add the second batch, and, stirring frequently, fry for another couple minutes. I found at this point that the powders had drunk up all of the initially huge-seeming quantity of oil.
Aziz says at this point to add the lentils to the pan. Because of the relative sizes of the vessels in question, I inverted this, and stirred the onions and spices into the pot of lentils.
Add the salt, and cook for another five minutes.
Add the coconut milk. If you like, you can also add some dried coconut for texture.
You now have a pot of the nastiest-looking gloppy yellow stuff you could imagine, though it tastes rather lovely. You are urged to hack up and toss in some fresh tomatoes just before serving to lend a little visual variety.