Cooking Lentils – Nature’s Perfect Food

In Indian cooking lentils and beans make up the dal family. We carry many of these varieties in our online store. Cook up one of the following or mix two and cook together: red lentils (masoor dal), yellow split peas, adzuki beans, red beans, chana dal, or hulled and split mung beans (moong dal). Dals cook best in a pressure cooker.

Step 1 – Boiling the Lentils with simple seasonings.
Lentils can have some organic material mixed in so they need to be picked through.
– Put them in a pot and wash them. Strain them in a strainer.
– Add the dal to a large pot and water or in a pressure cooker. The texture of the dal depends on the water to dal ratio. Obviously, more water produces a thinner soupier dal, less a thicker creamier dal. A good rule is 4 or 5 cups for every cup of dry dal. Pressure cooking only requires 3.5 cups to 4 cups of water.
– Add salt, turmeric and ginger paste. Bring to a boil. Add veggies at this time if you like.
– Reduce to simmer. As the dal cooks, feel free to add water if it becomes too thick. If using a pressure cooker, pressure cook for 10 minutes.
– When the lentils are done to your liking reduce heat to low/warm.
– Make the seasonings or masala.

Step2 – Flavorinf the lentils
– In a separate skillet, heat up some oil/ghee.
– Make sure there is enough oil in the pan to get a nice fry out of the spices (you don’t want them to scorch).
– To the hot oil add some or all of the following spices: cumin or mustard seeds, ground coriander, ground cumin, fresh curry leaves, cayenne, and hing or asafetida.
– When the spices begin to brown, splutter, change color and become aromatic, remove from heat quickly.
– Also consider adding chopped and sauteed garlic and onion.

Step 3 – Garnishing the lentils
Stir the masala or seasonings into the lentils.
– Season with lime juice or lemon juice – Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro or coriander leaves
– Serve with rice or bread.

© Kavita Mehta
photo credit Kavita Mehta


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