Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Spicy Red Lentil Dahl

(scroll down for the recipe!)

Growing up you can be sure I'd turn my nose up at any of that brown muck my mom belovedly called lentil soup. It wasn't until I became an adult and then a vegetarian that I had read in one of my cookbooks of the glories of lentils unlike the chalky, muddy variety that was usually used in such canned soups or found on the local grocery shelves. Turns out, I'm not a lentil hater, just a lentil snob! I first started my love affair with lentils when I read of Lentils du Puy, or French Green Lentils. After a while, the red, white and black varieties also became a part of my pantry staples. Now 'a days I throw lentils into soups, salads, pasta dishes, just about anything!

My favorite preperation thus far is a great red lentil dahl. I stumbled upon a recipe in VT about a year ago and, with the help of a friend, found a way to tweak it ever so slightly to produce the most delectable (and quick!) dahl around. It pairs amazingly well with some steamed garlicky spinach and, as pictured above, a bit of steamed cauliflower and a grain like brown rice.
(sure, it looks pretty in the picture, but mixing it all up to combine the flavors is half the fun!)

Did you know that lentils rank just under soy as the top legume protein source? They help to reduce cholesterol, to control insulin and blood sugar, and to lower blood pressure. In addition, they help regulate colon function, are high in calcium, mangesium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, chlorine, and vitamin A. Now that I'm a vegan always in search of non soy protein sources (you know, to have a diety with a healthy variety), I plan to forge ahead and find even more ways to incorporate lentils into all kinds of dishes in the future!

Spicy Red Lentil Dahl

2 c. lo sodium vegetable broth
1 c. red lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 med. onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbs mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 good pinch cinnamon
1/2 c. light coconut milk
2 tsp. fresh lime juice

Bring lentils and veggie stock to a boil over high heat. lower heat, partially cover, and simmer for 10 min, or until lentils are tender. cover and remove from heat.
Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and mustard seeds, saute 5 min. Add cumin, turmeric, and coriander, saute 3 min, stirring contantly. Add tomato paste and cinnamon, saute 3 min, stirring constantly. Add coconut milk and lentils, cook 3 min more. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper, add lime juice, stir and serve.

This recipe is great as pictured or as a dip for flat or pita breads.

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