Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Lentils with cumin and garlic

My SO is currently in London staying with family, and called over the weekend to report that they have an emergency: they have two full bags of lentils that need to be eaten in less than two weeks. My SO wanted me to send some lentil recipes, so, without further ado, here is my solution to the lentil crisis of 2005. Since I cooked this for dinner Sunday night, this will also be last week's (slightly delayed) end-of-the-week recipe blogging post.

1 1/2 cups dry lentils (yellow or pink)
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
5 cups water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, whole (optional)
6 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1) Rinse the lentils, and check for any stones mixed in.
2) Put the lentils, turmeric, and water into a pot. Stirring occasionally, bring the water to a boil, and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are soft throughout. For yellow lentils this will be ~40 minutes; for pink lentils this will be ~25 minutes (or check the suggested cooking time on the package of lentils you have).
3) Remove the lentils from the heat and stir in the salt. Mix the lentils vigorously with a whisk or spoon, or mash with a potato masher, until the lentil mixture is slightly creamy. You should have approximately 5 cups, and it should be similar in consistency to a thick cream soup. Thin with additional water if necessary.
4) Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
5) When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and fry for about a minute, then add the garlic slices and cook until the garlic just begins to turn brown, approximately 2 minutes.
6) Pour the oil, garlic, and cumin into the cooked lentils, stir well, and serve.

This recipe is extremely simple, yet tastes marvelous; the flavors of the fried cumin and garlic permeate the turmeric-laced lentils, and your guests will never know that there were only four main ingredients (excluding oil, water, and salt).

This recipe is slightly modified (reduced oil) from Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking".

Sahni, Julie. 1980. Classic Indian Cooking. William Morrow & Co, NY. pp. 332-333.

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