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Bengali Red Lentil Dal

1 1/2 C red lentils
3 1/2 C water
6 serrano chilies (or 3 jalepeno), either whole or sliced in quarters
1/4 t turmeric, or more to taste
1 1/2 t salt

4 T ghee, butter or vegetable oil
1 C minced onions
1 C chopped tomatoes
1 T grated fresh ginger

2 T ghee or vegetable oil
1 T panch phanon mix
4 dried small red chilies
1-3 cloves garlic

Panon mix is Equal proportions of whole cumin, fenugreek, anise,
mustard, "Indian black onion" seeds (kalunji).

There are three basic steps to this recipe: cooking the lentils in
water, making a tomato/onion/ginger mush, and making a spiced oil.

Rinse lentils well, add water, serrano chilies, turmeric and salt.
Bring carefully to boil and cook over low to medium heat, partially
covered, for 25 minutes. Cover and cook another 10 minutes. Adjust

While lentils are cooking, cook onions in a frying pan in the oil
until they are golden brown (approximately 10 minutes), stirring
constantly. Add tomatoes and ginger and continue cooking until
the tomatoes decompose into a delicious and fragrant mush (approximately
8 minutes.) Stir constantly so that tomato mixture doesn't stick.
Turn heat to low if necessary.

Scrape out this mush into the lentils and stir it in. Let lentils
sit while you make the spiced oil.

Do a quick rinse of the frying pan, without soap, and dry thoroughly.
Add the remaining 2T oil and heat over medium high heat. When oil
is hot add panch phanon mix and heat until the seeds begin to pop,
about 15 seconds. Add red chilies and fry for another 15 seconds,
until they turn a little darker. Turn off heat and add the crushed
garlic and let sizzle for about 30 seconds. Stir this mixture into
the lentil/tomato mixture and serve with rice. Adjust salt.

Using ghee changes the taste compared with oil. I prefer it for
step 4. It tastes good either way though.


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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Taste: Ease of Prep: Appearance:
Richness and depth, September 17, 2006 - 11:39 AM
Reviewer: Mady W. from Pittsfield, MA, U.S.A.
I've been experimenting with different Indian recpipes for lentils, and this one is about the best. It sings on so many levels, is both delicate and intense. Easy to prepare. Am having it over rice with a vegetable dish of roasted eggplant with some lemon.

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