I’ve told myself that I will be a good fantasy baseball wife this year. I won’t complain when Jeff disappears to check stats online, or when he needs flip channels to check scores. He knows full well that I’m not that into baseball, or sports in general. And in the past, I haven’t been as supportive as I could when it comes to his favorite hobby.
But this year is different, I’ve told myself. The other day we drove six hours to Little Rock so he could draft his team for a league he’s been part of for 10 years. We saw old friends and visited favorite haunts (we met while working at the newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette). The next morning, Jeff took his laptop to the breakfast room of the hotel and spent another couple of hours drafting yet another team for a different league. No eye rolls or complaints from me.
When we returned, I decided to give in to my craving for something warm, spicy and hearty. I love Indian food like Jeff loves baseball. I’m pretty sure it’s the cumin. Whatever it is, I can’t get enough. So, on Monday, I spent about an hour making these lentils.
Of the dozens of dals I’ve tried over the years, only a few have made it to GarlicShoots. This one is most definitely blog worthy. In a few days you’ll see butter chicken, which accompanied these lentils and rivals my friend Aisha’s. Gabi was gobbling it up. We all loved it. I will make it again this weekend.
Gingered Red Lentils with Garlic
barely adapted from 660 Curries
1 cup red lentils (mansoor dal), picked over for stones
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
4 lengthwise slices fresh ginger (each 2 inches long, 1 inch wide, and 1/8 inch thick) coarsely chopped
2 fresh green chiles, such as serrano, Thai or cayenne, stems removed
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, stems removed
1 medium-sized tomato (fresh or canned) finely chopped
1 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
Rinse the lentils by placing them in a medium saucepan and covering with water. Rub them between your fingertips. Drain the water and repeat a few times until the water remains somewhat clear. Drain. Add 3 1/4 cups water and bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium heat. Skim off and discard any foam on the surface. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer, stirring every now and then, until the lentils are tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
While the lentils are cooking, combine the onion, garlic, ginger and fresh chiles in a food processor. Pulse, mincing the ingredients. Do not let blades run constantly or the mixture will become watery.
Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the cumin seeds, dried chiles for 5 to 10 seconds, until the chiles blacken and the seeds turn reddish brown and smell nutty. Immediately add the onion blend, reduce heat to medium, and fry until the mix is light brown around the edges, stirring constantly, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomato, salt and tumeric. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomato softens, 3 to 6 minutes. Stir in the cilantro.
Stir the sauce into the cooked lentils. Cover the pan and simmer over medium-heat, stirring a few times, until the flavors blend, about 5 minutes. Serve warm.