Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Red Lentils Tarka (Masoor Dal)

     The humble bean. There are so many different kinds and so many different ways to prepare them. In the end, however, they all give me wicked gas.
You know I'm not going to make it through a bean recipe without a fart reference.
     This particular bean recipe is another Indian recipe by way of Madhur Jaffrey. It is an extremely simple recipe and makes for a nice side dish. It's not packing a ton of flavor, but I think that's the point. It's a nice mild side to take some of the edge off a spicier dish. Granted, it does use dried cayenne, but they don't really bring a ton of heat. The wife and I both really liked it, so it's likely this will find a place in our Indian cooking rotation. As always, any notes are in blue.

Red Lentils Tarka
Masoor Dal
via Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking

  • 1-1/2 cups red lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1-1/4 - 1-1/2 teaspoons salt (I went with the lower amount of salt since it makes me hold water like a sponge)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (as I am too lazy to make clarified butter, I went with the vegetable oil)
  • Generous pinch of asafetida (if you're going to cook Indian food, you probably should get yourself a small jar of this stuff)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (NOT the powder! They are not interchangeable. Or do what you want. It's your food. Throw Pop Rocks in there for all I care. Don't say I didn't warn you)
  • 3-5 dried, hot red chiles (I used the cayenne I dried from my garden since I have about 56,000 of them on hand)
  1. Pick over the lentils and wash in several changes of water. Drain. (How about no?)
  2. Put lentils in a heavy saucepan. Add 5 cups water and the turmeric. Stir and bring to a simmer. Do not allow to boil over (does a recipe really need to clarify that? Have you ever gone to cook something and said to yourself, "Fuck it, I'm just letting the whole thing boil over.) Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Turn heat to low and let simmer gently for 35-40 minutes or until tender. Stir a few times during the cooking (this is good advice, especially if you have the heat up a bit too high. No stirring = bean caulk fused to the pan). Add salt and mix. Leave covered on low during the next step.
  3. Put the oil in a small frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, stick your face directly in the oil for 8-10 seconds (just kidding. I wanted to see if you were paying attention. DO NOT STICK YOUR FACE IN THE HOT OIL.) Put in the asafetida, then, a second later, add the cumin seeds. Let the cumin seeds sizzle for a few seconds. Put in the red chiles. As soon as the turn dark red, lift the lid of the lentil saucepan and pour in the contents of the frying pan, oil as well as spices (Watch out here. There's going to be some water in the bean saucepan, so the oil is going to splatter a bit) Cover the saucepan immediately to trap the aromas. (When the aromas have died of asphyxiation, the beans are ready to eat and you may uncover the saucepan)
Good times!

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