Thursday, December 14, 2006


My mother in law watched my kids yesterday so I could go to the midwife and get some shopping done by myself. Yay! I had planned to make the lentil and barley soup I posted the other day for dinner in the crock-pot but I ran out of time and so I ran out the door vaguely pointing in the direction of the lentils and barley sitting on the counter. She made a very tasty dish out of them. All I can tell you is that I'm missing a can of tomato paste, most of my bottle of Cajun seasoning, and all of my barley. But I'm telling you about it so that you know that it's not that hard to improvise with legumes, just use imagination and you can have a lot of fun tasty meals.

Here is the Dahl recipe I learned from the Genius Husband right after he got back from India and Nepal, where he made this dish every day for a few months in a little pot on a backpacking stove for a group of street boys that he befriended while in Katmandu.

3 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp yellow curry powder

1 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp ground red chilies (not chili powder)

1 tsp ground ginger

2 1/2 cups red lentils rinsed and sorted remove small stones.
8 cloves garlic, minced

6-8 cups water or chicken stock

1 potato diced thinly

1-2 tbsp salt or to taste

In a large Dutch oven or saucepan heat the oil on high add spices and stir for about 30 seconds until absorbed in the oil. Add lentils; continue stirring for about one minute. (It’s better to go less than a minute if you’re not certain, burned turmeric just doesn’t taste that good so you have to moved fast. Add a cup or two of the broth or water and continue stirring. Add garlic. Continue to add liquid as the mixture thickens to prevent burning. Once the lentils begin to soften, add the rest of the liquid and the potato. Reduce heat to medium. (Use your judgment on the amount of liquid. It should never be so thick that the bottom starts to stick to the pan, add more liquid if needed. In India Dahl is often more like soup, this recipe is a little thicker but more liquid is quite all right.) Add the salt, taste before adding the second tablespoon, just in case.

Once the potatoes are cooked through remove from heat and serve with basmati rice or naan bread to use to eat it with. Yogurt can be used to cool it if it’s a little too spicy, apples and fennel and raisins taste surprisingly good on top with yogurt too, or some good chutney. A nice salad to go with Indian foods is quite simply diced cucumbers and tomatoes with yogurt lemon juice and whole cumin seeds stirred in.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you my all time favorite recipe for homemade refried beans.

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