Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Starving Artist's Red Lentil Dahl

I'm thinking of starting a new series, wherein I cook, eat, and then post about recipes which are easy, fast, delicious, and most of all CHEAP. This may or may not have something to do with my paltry teaching assistant stipend, my credit card debt, my shrinking savings account, and paying for a wedding. Really, though, do you need a good reason to save some money at the grocery store? I didn't think so.

Consider, then, this recipe first in the Starving Artist series. On Saturday night, I was planning to make a vegetable pot pie from scratch, but after a long day working in the yard, something simpler and faster sounded better. I remembered reading somewhere that red lentil dahl is made mostly from pantry staples, so I did some Googling and quickly found a recipe. Sure enough I had all the ingredients on hand, plus a bag of rice and some frozen peas to round out the meal. Thirty minutes later, dinner was on the table and it was AMAZING. This combination of Indian spices, velvety red lentils, and fluffy basmati rice is a verifiable winner. Nathan swore he would learn to make it himself, and cook it himself every week. I don't know if I'd want to eat it that often, but it's nice to know I could certainly afford to.

Starving Artist's Red Lentil Dahl
(adapted from about.com

1 Tsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp red pepper
1 tsp salt, or to taste
cilantro for garnish (optional) 

1. In medium sized pot, heat the olive  oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent, about 6 minutes.

2. Stirring constantly, add the broth, lentils, spices and salt. Bring to a low boil, then turn down the heat to low, cover and let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are very tender.

3. If the dahl is too thick, add water, but don't let it get too soupy. Thicker is better. I spooned mine over basmati rice, topped it with liberal amounts of cilantro, and served it with green peas.