First let me begin by saying that my mom makes an excellent chicken curry, which my husband requests all the time and I will get around to posting one of these days! Today, however, I am going to share my recipe for lentil curry or Dal. It was a college roommate of mine that first introduced me to lentil curry. Lentils are a great non-meat protein source and they also contain fiber, folate, and vitamin B1, yum! In college I shared a house with five of my friends and I seem to remember everyone in the house loving this dish. Of course I lost the original recipe at some point, but it's a fairly simple dish so here is my re-creation:
Enough for Two (main dishes)-multiply as needed:
1 Cup Dry Lentils (+3 cups water)
1 Small Vidalia Onion-finely chopped
2 Tbsp. Ghee or Olive Oil
1/4 tsp. Ground Cardamom
1/4 tsp. Turmeric
1/4 tsp. Ground Coriander Seed
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1.5-2 tbsp. Curry Powder
1 tsp. Tamarind Paste
2 tbsp. Whole Cream
Salt and Pepper to taste
(Serve with Basmati Rice)
Sort and rinse lentils. Boil 3 cups salted water, add lentils and simmer 20 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached. This would also be a good time to put on the rice!
While rice and lentils boil melt ghee or olive oil in a small saucepan, add chopped onion and saute over med-low heat for 5 minutes or until onions are softening. Add cardamom, turmeric, cumin, coriander and curry powder. Cook until onions are soft and spices are fragrant. Add tamarind paste.
Drain any excess liquid from lentils. Stir onions and spices into lentils and add whole cream. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice with a dollop of sour cream.
The fun part about this recipe is that you can play around with it, adjusting the spices to your taste, trying different kinds of lentils, or maybe adding a dash of tomato sauce? If you don't have access to things like Ghee or Tamarind paste, don't fret! I wouldn't have them either save for my mother-in-law and the new Indian market down the road from her! You can try substituting olive oil, sesame oil, or regular butter for the ghee or a teaspoon or two of brown sugar and a squeeze of lime juice instead of tamarind paste (although tamarind is a very unique flavor and I do suggest trying it if you can get your hands on it. A side note: it can also be used to make homemade Worchestershire sauce!)
**Also, thought I'd add that research points to numerous health benefits of curry powder and turmeric (which is also in curry powder), including anti-inflammatory properties, reducing arthritis symptoms, improving brain function and potentially guarding against Alzheimer's, and preventing the onset of, and fighting, several cancers including breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and skin cancer.