Every year I choose a word I want to focus on, and for 2016, I chose “active.” I was so busy last year, it seemed like every bit of potential free time was spent indoors, which definitely took a toll on my physical health. Though I was doing some awesome, creative things, it also took a toll on my mental well being, as I didn’t have time to focus on the things that keep me happy and productive. For me, my year of “active” means also being more involved in the things I find fulfilling. Blogging is one of those things, filling my wellspring back up.
Since it is a new year, and everyone is focused on healthy eating and improvement, I thought I’d focus on an easy, tasty vegetarian meal — Dal. I grew up thinking lentils were boring, never realizing that what they really needed was some spice. Of course, Indian grandmothers have been in the know about that for generations. What’s even better, lentils are an incredibly inexpensive food source. The recipe below is for four servings for around $3, and is so tasty, I’m making another batch tonight, per Charles’ request for more.
I served this with a dry Riesling. It would also be quite good with an amber ale, or if you want to go the non-alcohol route, coconut water would be nice, too.
1 cup dry, red lentils
2 cups water
1 sweet onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, diced
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
4 small handfuls chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Cover the lentils in water and let sit for a half hour or so. Drain and rinse.
In a small pot, add two cups of water, lentils, onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and jalapeno. Bring to a boil over medium heat then cover pot with a lid and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
Whisk the lentils and smash some with a large spoon in order to thicken. Add a pinch of salt and stir. Turn off heat, but keep the pot covered.
In a small pan, heat grapeseed oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add cumin and mustard seeds and cover for a few seconds. Add the powder and let them bubble for about 30 seconds. It can burn easily, so keep an eye on the spices. Pour the oil into the lentil mixture, stir, and serve with a garnish of cilantro.