Monday, January 2, 2017

Spiced Tomato Dal

I've been adjusting my diet to eat less meat. I'm not a vegetarian by any means; I still enjoy meat. But, the morality and the environmental impact are concerning to me so I want to do my part to reduce my contribution.

I think one of the biggest complaints about eating vegetarian is that the food can be quite bland. The solution is Indian food. It's heavily spiced and super delicious so I don't think anyone could justify calling it bland. One of my favorite vegetarian dishes is lentils. They're super easy and unlike other dried bean dishes, you don't need to soak them beforehand which means that if a craving strikes, you can whip this dal together in thirty minutes.
Ingredients [serves 2]:
dal
1 tablespoon butter (or ghee)
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon grated ginger
¼ onion, diced
2 Thai chilis, sliced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup lentils
¼ cup canned tomatoes
½ cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon lemon juice

tarka
1 tablespoon butter (or ghee)
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes

Start by heating a pan over medium high. (I picked up these cute little Indian pans nice and cheap from World Market.) Throw in the butter, onions, garlic, and Thai chilis. Saute until the onions are soft. Stir in the spices and then add in the lentils and toast for a couple of minutes.
Add in the tomatoes, broth, and cilantro. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
Squeeze in a little lemon juice and let the lentils simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Tarka is a fragrant, seasoned oil that's added in at the end to finish a dish. It's a common way to complete dal. For this particular dish, I like to use mustard seed, cumin seed, and chili flakes for heat. Add all of the ingredients to a small pan and pop onto the hob and heat until the mustard seeds start to pop.
Stir the tarka into the lentils and it's ready to serve.
I served a bit of a feast - I'm sharing the super simple coconut mushroom curry tomorrow - with spicy chicken tikka, homemade garlic & cilantro naan, red onion chutney, toasted cashew & golden raisin basmati, and roasted vegetables. My mouth is watering thinking about this meal.

The lentils are particularly spectacular because they're so hardy, I don't think I would've missed the other elements of the meal. They're well spiced; I think finishing the dish off with the tarka makes it especially awesome.
Here's the recipe page:

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