Saturday, May 29, 2010

Black Lentils for a Busy Week

Four work deadlines have converged and taken time out from my real life: bike riding, reading, gardening and most of all, cooking.I did manage to make some black lentil dal, called Kali Dal in various spellings. I've been staring at these split urad dal in the pantry for too long and thought it was time to make something of them. And because I have so much of them, I actually doubled the recipe, thinking I could send the leftovers home with the troops after our semi-regular Sunday family dinner. Unfortunately, the Sunday family dinner didn't materialize. Faced with all this dal in the fridge, I dipped into it for lunch a couple of times and found that the flavor gets better and better as it sits. Which shouldn't have been a surprise, really. Most bean dishes are better the next day. We served it with delicious garlic naan bought frozen at Trader Joe's. I promised myself I'd learn to make homemade naan one of these days. But not this week.

 Kali Dal

1 cup split urad daal
2 onions thinly sliced
2 green chillies, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, diced
3" piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 tsps ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
2 tbsps oil

Wash the lentils and soak in water to cover overnight. Drain.

Put lentils in a pan with 3 cups of water, 1/2 the onions, the chilis and a little salt. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer until tender.

In a skillet, saute the rest of the onion until transparent. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Add the tomatoes, cumin, coriander and cayenne, and cook a little longer. Add the tomato mixture to the lentils. At this point if the dal is too thick add a little water or stock.Cook until creamy and thick. Correct the seasoning.

2 tbsps butter
1 tsp cumin seeds

Wipe out the skillet and heat the butter. When it sizzles, add the cumin seeds and give them a stir. Cook until fragrant but don't let the seeds burn. Pour the butter and cumin over the lentils, put the lid on and turn off the heat. After a few minutes, give the dal a stir and serve.

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