** It's official, I should be wandering the back hills of Mongolia or laid out in a straw hut in rural India, I've counted almost 12 recipes in my repertoire that are based on this legume, the mighty lentil. Part of is its versatility, the way it melds with flavours so obligingly, and how it's not heavy like kidney beans/black beans/garbanzos which tend to overwhelm a dish with their presence. At any rate, I make a lot of varying salads with dried cooked lentils, using corn, bulghur or quinoa, toasted sesame seed, feta, mint, and warm French vinaigrettes. You can find they under Savoury Salads. For another soup option, similar core ingredients (carrots, onions, lentils, tomatoes) the soup leans towards Italy with differents herbs and spices and the addition of pancetta. You can find the recipe, based on the one in the Joy of Cooking here.
Absolutely complex, warmingly spicy, gastronomically deeply satisfying -- lentil dahl is a blah January night's quick fix. And it is quick. The soup takes under 30 minutes to prepare, with additional simmering time. And the bread requires some whole wheat flour mixed with enough water to make a paste which is then rolled out and cooked like a pancake in a hot griddle/cast iron pan in butter until brown at the edges.
I've always been a bit confused by dahl - is it made from split yellow peas, split green peas, brown lentils, red lentils, or what? And is it the trio of turmeric, cumin and coriander? And does adding curry, which I do, totally disqualify my stew from accurately falling into the dahl category? All I know is, true to my nature, I play around a lot with dishes I like and try to find a straight forward conclusive recipe that stands out as the best. This one's pretty good. I like the added complexity of cauliflower and potato. They meld well with the flavours, naturally, as they are regular players in Indian/Nepalese food.
The soup gets thick quickly, as the red lentils quickly absorb the broth and thicken. Keep the burner on less than medium to simmer otherwise you'll end up with a burnt flavour to your soup as the lentils quickly gravitate to the flame and stick to the bottom of the pot.
Topping ideas include:
Finely chopped green onion, including the greens
Finely chopped green cabbage
Fresh lime juice
Crumbled feta cheese
Toasted coconut flakes
Finely diced tomatoes
Spicy Red Lentil Dahl With Cauliflower and Potato
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp mustard seed
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 large yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
5 tsp curry powder
1 serrano chile
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp tumeric
2 cups red lentils, rinsed thoroughly under cold water
6 cups water + 1 chicken boullion cube
150 g of frozen chopped spinach (1/2 of a square box)
Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. When it is hot, add the onion, and cook over medium heat until it begins to sweat, add the mustard seeds, and continue cooking for a minute or until they start to pop. Add the garlic and ginger and continue cooking for another few minutes. Then add the tomatoes, the cauliflower, the potatoes, and the carrots, and toss to stir. Add in the spices, toss again to blend the flavours. Add in the lentils and the water and crumble the boullion cube into the pot. Cook over medium for 20 minutes, stirring often. When the lentils have cooked through, turn down the heat to medium low, add the frozen spinach, and cover and let simmer for another 15 minutes.