Monday, October 13, 2008

Lentil makeover

Dear Foodies,


I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend, I sure enjoyed mine. The weather was perfect all through with bright, sunny blue skies and the colors of the fall finally taking over, and friends to complete the picture. If only this weather stays on forever :) Today's recipe came from a disaster recovery effort, it was an ingredient that went completely wrong but then turned out to be perfect for another recipe. Has that happened to you ? Usually when I am cooking with an ingredient for the first time or making a dish I've never had before, I don't know what to expect. How long does it need to cook ? Is the texture right, does it look/taste like its supposed too ? What order do I cook things in ? There are just way too many questions, and its only after a couple of trial n error chances and some guesswork I arrive at something I like.

A few weeks back, I brought home a fresh tomato salsa and a lentil salad from the deli section of my local organic store here. I liked both of them and I read through the ingredients list for the lentil salad. Most were simple everyday ingredients. I've never cooked with yellow/green lentils before and so bought a pack to experiment with the salad recipe. I did not check to see if there were any cooking instructions on the package before emptying the lentils into a jar and tossing it out. I read a few recipes online and stove top or pressure cooking were used. I was too lazy to go the stove top way, waiting by the counter for 20-30 mins and so decided to pressure cook them. Two whistles from the cooker later I was left with a mush of lentils unsuitable for any kind of salad!! I was totally disappointed and chucked the idea of a salad and made do with a sandwich that night. But, .....but, the smell of lentil mush reminded me of another dish, dal makhni ...,

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups - Brown lentils, accidentally cooked to a near mush, yes a few still had some life in them.
  • 1/2 cup - thinly sliced Onions
  • 2 nos - medium Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp - chopped, Ginger
  • Whole spices: 1" stick of cinnamon, 1 -badi elaichi/cardamom, 1 tsp - Shahi jeera/cumin, 2 - laung/cloves
  • 1 tsp- Chili powder (adjusted to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp - Oil/butter
  • 3.5 + 0.5 cups - Water
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro and lemon wedges for garnish
Method:
  1. Sift through the lentils to remove any stones and wash them thoroughly. Add 4 cups of water, salt it and cook in a pressure cooker for 1 whistle, or cook them over the stove top until they are completely tender but retain a little of their shape. (for salads, they need to have some bite left)
  2. In a pan, heat the oil (or use butter), add the whole spices and let them sizzle for a while, next add the onions, ginger and saute until the onions turn translucent and slightly brown.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook for 6-8 mins until they loose shape and the oil slightly starts to separate around the edges. Add chili powder (and garam masala, optional), cook for a minute and add the lentils with 1/2 cup of water.
  4. Since salt was added to the lentils, taste to check for more salt. Cover and cook for an additional 6-8mins on low heat. Garnish with coriander leaves/cilantro, a slice of butter and serve with rice (jeera rice/pulao) or roti along with a wedge of lemon on the side.
I forgot about the salt in the lentils since I was using them after a few days in the fridge and oversalted the dish a little :( I cubed a small potatoe and tossed it in with some water to absorb the salt :D The curry tasted good despite all the mess up's during the cooking, I actually liked the potatoes in them too. The lentils have a very earthy taste and combined with the whole spices, the dish was rich in flavor. The reason I never tried the original dal makhani because I never buy the whole urad (black lentils) and don't know other recipes using it. The brown lentils seemed to be a more flexible and convenient choice for me, and there are more recipes coming up.

I had it with jeera rice, a pretty simple recipe that I fmake often. Heat some oil, toss in loads of jeera/shah jeera, a stick of cinnamon, a few cloves, some sliced garlic. Once they sizzle, add some finely sliced onions if you aren't too lazy. Then add the washed rice, saute till it its coated with the oil and spices (1-2mins), transfer to a rice cooker with salt n water and its done :)

I was lucky in averting this disaster, how do you deal with yours, any good ones ?

11 thoughts:

Divya Vikram said...

It doesnt look like a disasater ever..Looks perfect with jeera rice..

Priyanka said...

The pics are pretty tempting...how resourceful of you to come up with this lovely idea...the badi elaichi and other spices must have added a different flavor to the dish.

aparna said...

Looks perfect to me. Jeera rice looks so yummy too.

Vaishali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vaishali said...

Priya, the best recipes are sometimes born of accidents. This looks delicious.

Uj said...

It does not look like a disaster at all..Its looks perfectly done...Rice looks yummy too..

Bhawana said...

Priya I liked that stmt that "some still have life.....".. very tempting pics :)

mitr_bayarea said...

Not at all a disaster, what a great combo to go with jeera rice. I guess this is how some of the best recipes are discovered.

Nirmala said...

Looks great! Me too have done lots of disaster recovery in my kitchen. Good on your NabloWriMo run! I am reading it on all the 3 blogs (u're, bee's and manisha's) but only now commenting in u'rs. I have a recipe in my blog for the whole urad dal. So u can as well go ahead and buy a pack if u wish ;)

Priya said...


Divya, You should have seen it when it came out of the pressure cooker ;)

Priyanka, the spices were paired really well with the lentils. The aroma of the lentils reminded me soo much of dal makhani that I had no choice :)

Aparna, jeera rice is one of my go-to recipes for any north Indian curry.

Vaishali, I wish all my accidents turned out this way ;)

UJ, thank you :)

Bhawana, hehe, thats how I felt looking at the overdone lentils :))

Mitr, thank you :) This was a really unexpected turn out from my salad expt, but a good one :)

Nirmala, and I have been reading all your comments :)) I am getting tired of the every day posting though, too taxing :( was contemplating a quit but I think your comment will hold me a lil longer now :) off to your blog...

Sagari said...

plate full of yummy food ,yummmmm

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