Spicy Lentil Puree
Although the lowly lentil has long been known as a food for the masses, this reputation has allowed it to play a significant role in political satires, revolutionary speeches and lessons from the Bible. The Greek playwright Aristophanes coined a political phrase around the lentil, in the Bible Esau sold his birth right for a bowl of lentils and legend has it that the French Revolution dissident Robespierre ate lentils as his last meal before his execution. Quite an illustrious history for a bean I'd say, but one that is well deserved because lentils are so good for you and one of the easiest dried beans to prepare.
Their diminutive size means you don't have to pre-soak them like you do other types and they only take about 30 minutes to cook. High in protein, fiber, iron and folic acid, lentils are a great addition to your diet.
Most lentils available to us in the United States are either brown, red, yellow or orange. The brown ones will stay firm when cooked and they contain the most fiber because they still have their seed coats on. Red, yellow or orange lentils are good as thickening agents in soups or purees, such as this recipe.
This is actually an Indian dish called dahl, which is also the Indian name for lentils. It is a spicy puree of lentils that you can eat as a dip with flat bread or make it into a meal by pouring it over rice. Either way it is simple to prepare, good for you and very tasty.
- 1 cup red lentils
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp. turmeric, ground
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 medium onion
- 1 tsp. hot chilies, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. ginger, minced
- 1/8 tsp. cinnamon, ground
- 1/8 tsp. cloves, ground
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. coriander
- 1/8 tsp. cardamom
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
To begin, mix your spices. In a small bowl combine cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne, and pepper. Set the spice mixture aside.
Over a high heat bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the salt, turmeric and lentils to the boiling water. Gently boil the lentils over a medium heat until they are soft and most of the water has evaporated. It may be necessary to add a little more water as the lentils cook and be sure to stir them often.
As the lentils are cooking you can prepare the spices. Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet and add the ginger, onions and garlic. Saute until the onions are soft and translucent. Now add your spice mixture and the hot peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes more. You can tell it is ready when the aroma becomes strong and flavorful. Add the cooked lentils to the skillet with the onions, garlic, peppers and spices. Cook over a low heat until well blended.
Remove the dahl from the stove and set aside to rest for a few minutes before serving either with flat bread or over Basmati rice. This is one of those dishes that is even better the next day!
Time to prepare: 30 minutes.
This recipe is vegetarian.