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Home Cook: Rinku Bhattacharya, Valhalla, N.Y. blogger at Spice Chronicles
Back Story: "Lentils are what bind the many complex variations of Indian cooking together. Dal is the generic name for a pot of lentils, and let me tell you there is absolutely nothing dull about the way dal is made in India. The variations will vary by season, occasion, household and reason and is ultimate comfort food, and the good news is that it is pretty healthy.
I had stumbled upon this homey dish unexpectedly on a chance visit to someone’s home. I was mesmerized by the complexity of textures and flavors and asked the chef for the process. What she described to me seemed implausible and too simple. Essentially, her process could be broken down to, throw ingredients into a pot, and simmer forever, stir and temper.
However, one weekend when I was home alone and feeling gloomy, I began staring at the sweet potatoes that I had on hand. This dish seemed like the perfect thing to make -- soothing, comforting and seasonal. Following memory and instincts I put this together and was rewarded with flavorful goodness. If you have a pressure cooker, you can cut down the cooking time significantly, however, since most of the cooking is done unattended all one needs to do is plan around it."
Recipe: Red Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Black Eyed Peas
- 1/2 cup red masoor lentils
- 3/4 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
- 1.5 teaspoons powdered cumin
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried black-eyed peas
For the tempering
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1.5 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 lime or lemon, halved
- Chopped cilantro
- Place the red lentils sweet potato and water in a heavy bottomed pan.
- Add in the water, salt, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cayenne pepper, cumin, tomatoes and black eyed peas.
- Bring the ingredient to a simmer, and cover and cook undisturbed for about 45 minutes to an hour.
- Remove the lid and stir the mixture gently with a wooden spoon, until the red lentils and the vegetables mix together to form a smooth puree leaving the black eyed peas whole.
- In a separate pan, heat the oil and add in the mustard seeds and when they crackle add in the garlic and sauté until the garlic is fragrant.
- Pour the tempering over the lentils and stir well.
- Squeeze in the lime juice and garnish with cilantro and serve with rice and flatbreads.
- This recipe can be made with a pumpkin or winter squash, but needs to have a distinct sweet and sour taste, so if you are using a winter squash, you might add 1 teaspoon of sugar.
- If you wish to use a pressure cooker do so in the second step and cook under pressure for 18 minutes.