I’m having trouble with Indian food. I’ve tried creating my own versions and other people’s. I tried an okra and tomato dish to serve with my leftover naan (psst … it does freeze after cooking), but it failed. Somehow, even though I used a bunch of spices and based it off a similarly spiced dish, it just wasn’t good. I tried a recipe for chana masala with chickpeas. I didn’t much enjoy the outcome. Luckily for me I have a wonderful husband, who always says my cooking is good (except for carrot soup, that was just bad) and is happy to try most things.
Then I tried a recipe for dal – this one works. It’s warm and filling, but simple to make and perfect to scoop up with my naan. Unfortunately, I don’t know why it works and why my other attempts have not. I do know that at least I’m getting closer to figuring out Indian food; until then, I at least have a few successes to encourage me to keep trying.
Daladapted from Smitten Kitchen 1/4 cup canola oil (just enough to cover the bottom of the pot) 1 medium onion, diced 3-4 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon ground coriander 3/4 teaspoon turmeric 1/4 teaspoon cayenne 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup French or split lentils 1 large tomato, diced 3 cups vegetable broth (or water)
In a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Dice the onion and add it to the pot. Saute until it starts to brown, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne and salt and stir to combine. Add the lentils and the diced tomato and mix together, so the lentils are covered in the seasoning. Add the vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to heat and cover. Simmer the lentils until they are tender (15-20 minutes for split and 45-50 minutes for French). Garnish with freshly minced cilantro or parsley, a dollop of plain yogurt and a few pieces of garlicky naan. Enjoy.