Thursday, July 10, 2008

Red Lentils with Garlic

As I've mentioned before in this blog, we try to eat one vegetarian meal each week in our household. It is one way we introduce our children to new tastes from different parts of the world. I am beholden to Mahur Jaffrey for inspiring this wonderful dish. If you haven't read her book, World Vegetarian (Random House, 1999), I would heartily recommend it. The initial cooking method for the red lentils is hers, the flavoring afterward -- my own. We like it best served with Thai jasmine rice.


1 cup red lentils, sorted and washed 3 times
4 cups water
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. salt

2 tbs. canola oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tbs. snipped chives
salt & pepper to taste

Begin by sorting and washing the lentils in several changes of water. You want the cooking water to be fairly clear, not murky. Bring lentils and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Skim off the foam that rises to the surface of the water. Add the turmeric (this will give it a lovely bright yellow color) and stir. Place lid on pot so that it is slightly vented, or open the steam vent slightly if you have one. Cook gently on low heat for 40-50 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Add salt and stir. Remove lid to allow some water to evaporate and turn off the heat.

In a small frying pan, heat oil. Add cumin seeds and fry until they pop. Add cayenne pepper and garlic, heating over medium heat to brown and soften garlic cloves. They should brown on all sides, but not scorch. Once garlic is soft, slightly mash with a fork into spiced oil. Pour contents of pan into lentils and stir.

Allow lentil liquid to reduce and flavors to combine by again placing uncovered pot over low heat while you cook the rice. 2-3 minutes before serving, stir lemon juice and chives into lentils. The chives will turn bright green against the beautiful yellow of the lentils.


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