Saturday, June 11, 2016

Urad Dal

Summer vacation is one small week old.  It has taken me less than that week to catch up on my sleep, revel in unscheduled time, to forget how to jungle multiple events in close proximity in each other, and to flip through cookbooks excitedly because I have more than an hour to make supper and enough energy to try something different.

Summer vacation also means I am going to try to post as many recipes as possible.  I've learned this blog isn't so much for other readers as it is for me.  It's become a huge data base which has helped me immensely in meal planning.  When life gets harried in August and September, I'll probably need help remembering which recipes helped get me through this spring.

That said, there's a little bit of pressure about what recipe to post first after a three month hiatus.  Should it be one from one of my favorite new cookbooks or one that I've made all year and I just forgot to post.  I'm going for the latter--nothing terribly exciting, just delicious and comforting.

M doesn't like lentils any more.  Her comment tonight was "I feel bad for the people around the world who have to eat this all the time."  That was followed by, "You're lucky I'm hungry," which was uttered as she loaded heaping spoonfuls of rice and lentils onto her plate.  Sometimes I ignore what she likes and make what Curtis and I like.

This calls for black lentils (or urad dal).  Those are easy for me to find thanks to the close proximity of Whole Foods bulk section.  If you don't have an extensive bulk section with non traditional grains/legumes, just use regular lentils.  I'd recommend the green versus the red or brown because they tend to hold their shape better.

This serves 6 or so.

Urad Dal
adapted from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

1 1/2 c black lentils
1/4 c butter (or ghee)
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 T garam masala
4 1/2 c water or chicken broth
5 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped (or 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes)
2/3 c coconut milk
2 T lime juice
1 - 2 c cilantro, chopped
rice to serve 4 - 6

1 - 2 oz crispy fried shallots (optional)
1 1/4 c coarsely shredded unsweetened coconut, the fresher the better (optional)

Melt the butter in a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions.  Cook for 15 minutes or until the onions are soft, brown, and deliciously fragrant.  Add the garlic, ginger, and garam masala and cook for 4 more minutes, stirring constantly to prevent  them from scorching.  Add the black lentils, water or broth, and 1 t salt.  Bring to a boil (turning up the heat if necessary) then simmer (turning down the heat if you just turned it up) for about 40 minutes or until the lentils are cooked but still hold their shape.  You are not going for mush.  Reduce the heat to low and stir in the coconut milk and lime juice.

Serve on top of rice with a generous sprinkling of cilantro and shallots and coconut if desired.

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