Wednesday, 20 March 2013

People... Check Your Pulses!

Lenticchie Miste con Aromi Indiani
Indian-Spiced Mixed Dal

Dal, as you may well know, is the Indian word for lentils, in their myriad forms, colors, textures and flavors... I absolutely love them! There are so many different kinds of lentils, it is quite a shame that most people only ever eat the generic, flat, brown, delicious but ultimately boring brown ones. Nope- not enough scope for fun in that for me of course! So this morning before work, I popped a handful of "Urad Dal" into a little bowl of water to soak... those are the thicker, darker ones you can see there- with a lovely, nutty flavor... but fear not! I added plenty more this evening!

I remember, growing up in England in the 70's, the only place we could buy lentils was from the Indian, ethnic stores. I used to go there with my dad, who would of course dismiss all of the other lentils he wasn't familiar with and buy only the "regular" ones for us... and even then I used to think to myself, "Oh! I wonder how the red ones taste?!? or the yellow ones!" Today I know how they taste- but my desire to try them again and again has not diminished in the slightest!

This evening, I added another 3 types of lentils to the mix- Masoor Dal, which are the red ones, Moong Dal which are the small yellow lentils and Sabbut Masoor Dal which are the brown. Thanks too the Urad Dal, which do take 40-45 minutes to cook, even after soaking, this was not such a quick meal to prepare- but it was still ready in way less than an hour... but it was worth the work... oh boy was it ever!

I began by rinsing the Urad dal under running water, then bringing them to the boil in twice the amount water than I had lentils and then reducing the heat to a low simmer. Whilst they were bubbling away, I finely diced some celery, onion and ginger. I added these to the lentils and then continued with my prep-work, by removing the seeds from a pointed red pepper and cutting it into fine slices. I had a half of a zucchini left over and decided to add that, into a small dice... but set aside for a little later.

After 20 minutes or so, I added the brown Sabbut Masoor dal and let them simmer along for a further 10 minutes, then added the yellow Moong Dal and all of the spices- in this case 1 tablespoon Chaat Masala, 1 tablespoon Garam Masala & a sprinkle of fennel seeds. I added a little water (as the lentils were now beginning to expand) and a handful of the Masoor Dal, or red lentils. The next thing I decided to add, was a tablespoon of gram flour, dissolved into a cupful of water and then added to the lentils. This thickened up the sauce wonderfully- and at this point I added a handful of finely chopped cilantro and a couple of tablespoons of yogurt. I stirred in the yogurt and added a teaspoon of tandoori spice and a squeeze of lime... and my spiced lentils were ready to serve!

I added a nice blob of yogurt, more fresh and finely chopped cilantro and sprinkle of chili flakes... and enjoyed my tasty combination immensely... and if you try it- I am sure you will too!

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