Recipe: Curried Lentils with a Twist

7 Nov

People either love lentils, or they don’t. I fall in the former camp, and luckily, so do most of my family members. One of my sons can eat his weight in these lentils–ok, half his weight in the actual lentils and rice, and the other half in the extremely hot lime pickle he slathers on top. I’m not sure how he has any taste buds left.

This dish is actually a hybrid (hence “the twist”). It is mostly Indian, but with a few Spanish and Latin American hints. There is some degree of overlap between the cuisines, which I capitalized upon here: the lentils, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, and lemon. But the turmeric and garam masala tip the balance toward a more pronounced Indian flavor, while the use of bouillon powder is typically Latin American. Either way, the result is a testament to fusion food, and like so many recipes that stand the test of time, it is one you can adapt almost any which way.

Curried Lentils with a Twist
Serves 8-10

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lg. onion, diced
3 tsp. whole coriander seeds
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tomatoes, diced (after dicing, remove as many of the white core parts as possible, without worrying too much)
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 (16-oz.) bag lentils (about 2 heaping cups), picked over and rinsed
6.5 c. water, divided
4 tsp. chicken or vegetable bouillon powder (or equivalent cubes to make 4 c. bouillon)
salt to taste (if needed)
2 tsp. garam masala
juice of 1/2 lemon

Preparation

1. Sauté onion and coriander seeds in olive oil in a medium saucepan until onion is soft; add garlic and cook for a couple minutes more. Add tomatoes and cook until soft, mashing them with a large slotted spoon to break them up. Add ground coriander, cumin, and turmeric, stir, and cook for a a minute or two. Add lentils, 5 c. water, and bouillon powder/cubes.

2. Bring to a boil, cover saucepan, then simmer lentils until soft, usually about 30-45 minutes. Note: Stir lentils every 10 minutes or so, adding remaining 1.5 c. water as needed if the lentils start getting too dry. Depending on the lentils, they may absorb a lot of liquid, so it’s important to check periodically. Ultimately, the lentils should be soupy and almost stew like–not too thin, not too thick.

3. Add garam masala and lemon juice and check seasonings.

4. Serve with rice (short-grain brown rice is great) and chutney or Indian pickle (such as lime pickle for those who like it hot).

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