One time I went to an Indian grocery store in search of “dal.” I’d found a recipe online that sounded amazing but was confused by this mysterious dal. So I treked across town to the Indian speciality store. I asked for dal and the worker walked down one of the two aisles and hands me a 10 lb bag of…lentils.
There are various kinds of dal, as far as I could tell, including some that weren’t very lentil-ish looking. I didn’t want a 10 lb bag or even a 5 lb bag, so to make my trip not completely pointless, I got a fresh, homemade, HOT samosa. Hot as in very very fresh and also very very spicy. I don’t do spicy….despite having a dad that eats habaneros. The flavor of the samosa was incredible – at least from what I could taste before my taste buds disintegrated. Luckily, I had bought some naan from the freezer section so I could go home and gauze my mouth in bready goodness. (why is naan so dang good??)
Although I don’t have 10 lbs of dal, I’m still working my way through some other pantry staples and have tons of rice, beans and lentils on hand. I’m trying to use up food I have in my cupboards instead of buying new things at Whole Foods each week. I just had to buy fresh cauliflower and cilantro for this. Everything else I had on hand.
This dal won’t burn your mouth. Unless you put in the whole pepper, seeds and all. And even then, you might still be ok. I don’t do spicy. But go right ahead, my brave friends. (Remember when I was brave with wasabi?)
Indian Lentils with Cauliflower & Tomatoes
Inspired by Aarti’s Mum’s Everyday Lentils
Takes about 1.5 hours total to make (30 minutes is inactive with lentils soaking)
- 1 cup green lentils
- 2 cups water
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 head cauliflower, rinsed and chopped
- 1 serrano chile, seeds removed, diced (optional)
- 3/4 t cumin
- 3/4 t dry mustard
- 3/4 t turmeric
- 1/2 t paprika
- 1 T canola oil
- cilantro, chopped
- Rinse lentils and then put in a large bowl and cover completely with water. Let soak for 30 minutes and then drain.
- In a medium pot, combine the 2 c water, onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chili, cauliflower and lentils. Bring to a boil then lower heat, cover pot and gently simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the lentils are very tender.
- Add salt to taste. I used about 2 teaspoons.
- In a small bowl, combine the cumin, dry mustard, turmeric, and paprika.
- Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high until the oil begins to shimmer. Add the spices and stir quickly. (Stand back a little so you don’t get splashed by the oil). Let sizzle for about 30 seconds until very fragrant. No longer or they’ll burn!
- Pour the oil mixture into the lentils, again being careful not to get burned when the oil hits the lentil mixture, and stir well.
- Serve over brown rice and top with cilantro.
Additional serving option: Put in a small tortilla with hummus and spinach, Fold over and warm both sides in a skillet until the tortilla is slightly crispy. (This was great for leftovers at lunch the next day!)