Tuesday, September 30, 2008

all dal-ed up...

in India, dal is the generic term for lentil stew. varieties of dal differ insofar as the type of lentil used and how it is prepared. the following is a recipe for "masoor dal" - curried red lentil stew.

for about $6 you can purchase everything you need to make this recipe twice over (assuming you have a well stocked spice rack). i make this dish once a week, finishing it with either coconut milk or tomato puree, depending on how i feel. the tomato version is deep, hearty and rich - great as a main course. the coconut milk version is much more delicate and makes a great side dish.

Red Lentil Dal
yields 6 cups

3 TBS canola oil
1-2 stick of cinnamon
4-6 green cardamom pods

1/2 red onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground corinader
1 tsp turmeric
1-3 chili peppers (jalapeno, serrano, ect) - optional
1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed and picked
3 cups vegetable stock
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk (or) 1.5 cups tomato puree
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 large zucchini, medium dice
1 large tomato, medium dice

2-3 tsp garam masala*
salt to taste

*step one is optional, kinda. if you don't have the cardamom pods or cinnamon sticks your dal will still taste gooder than hell, but you are better than that - go for the glory.

1. heat 3 tablespoons canola oil over medium-high heat. at 1-2 sticks of cinnamon and 4-6 green cardamom pods. saute until fragrant about 2 minutes. remove the cardamom pods; biting into one of these is about as much fun as getting your genitals stuck in a zipper.

2. combine the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin and coriander in a small mixing bowl, add just enough water to form a (curry) paste. saute the onion over medium-high heat until brown around the edges. add the curry paste to the onions and saute over medium heat for about 2 minutes. add chopped fresh chilies.

3. add the stock to the onion mixture along with 1 tsp of salt; bring to a boil, add the lentils. simmer, covered for 10 - 15 minutes until done.

4. add coconut milk** (or tomato puree), zucchini, and chopped tomato. cook until vegetables are just tender 2-4 minuntes.

5. add freshly chopped cilantro, and 2-3 tsp of garam masala. finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

* garam masala is a blend of ground spices such as mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, bay leaves, star anise and fennel. it can be bought whole or ground at many specialty markets and well-stocked super stores.
** coconut milk has two components: the cream and the milk. when you open up a can of this stuff there will be a thick layer of coconut cream on top. some people discard this, others use it to saute aromatics - for this recipe just mix it into the thinner coconut milk beneath it.

© 2008 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" - http://missioninsatiable.blogspot.com/

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