Saturday, October 27, 2007

Easy Dal

(Let me clear up any confusion: I made a quadruple batch of the lentils but gave instructions for a single batch. The quantities shown in the pictures will seem exaggerated due to this difference. I have also edited the food cost...lentils are cheaper than I remembered.)

Dal refers to lentils. It looks like porridge or thick split pea soup but is unmistakable in it's Indian flavor. When combined with rice, it's also highly nutritious. Check out this link. In addition to being delicious, nutritious, and cheap, it's remarkably easy to make and can be varied to suit your mood. Here's one way to make it.

Take a cup of dry lentils (I used channa dal) and rinse. Place in a pot with water. I use a 4:1 ratio of water to lentils.
Bring to a boil and skim off the weird flotsam. Add a half teaspoon of ground turmeric, stir and lower heat to a gentle simmer.

Assemble the rest of the ingredients. I used 3 dried chiles, a teaspoon of coriander seed, two pinches of cumin seed, 4 cloves, a cinnamon stick, and a few black peppercorns. Grind in a coffee grinder. If it looks like I have a ridiculous amount of spices, it's because I made a quadruple batch. Set aside.

Cut up an onion...I go with a chunky, coarse cut because I like the texture it gives to the final product. Set aside.

When the lentils have softened into a gruel like consistency, it's time to finish the dish. This might take anywhere from 30-60 minutes, depending on the type of lentil you used.

To finish, stir fry the onions for 5 minutes. You just want to soften them a bit.

Add the ground spice mixture and cook for another few minutes. It should smell quite nice.

Mix the onion mixture with the lentils and cook for another ten minutes. Season to taste with salt. Adding some lemon juice is also nice. Done!

Time-45 minutes, much of it unsupervised.
Food Cost
Lentils- $.75
Incidentals- $0.50
Total- $1.25
Serves 3-4

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