Thursday, March 13, 2008
I tend to cook a good deal with lentils and beans because, to a vegan, they are an invaluable source of protein and there's absolutely nothing in them that's not really, really good for you.
What's more, they come in so many different shapes and sizes and flavors, it is impossible to get bored with them.
Now pink lentils (masoor dal) are a staple in any Indian pantry, and they definitely occupy pride of place in mine. Besides all the health benefits, these tiny pink nuggets are extremely quick-cooking, even compared to other lentils like tuvar dal. Twenty minutes in a pot of boiling water, and you're done, no soaking required.
My Subtly Spiced Pink Lentils with Veggies are actually a version of a dish I used to cook in my omnivore days. I swear the vegan version is tastier! I added to the lentils half of a leftover cauliflower and some crimini mushrooms as well as a bunch of watercress leaves, and the flavor from all this fresh goodness was unbeatable, not to mention the improved nutritional profile of the dish. If you don't have these particular veggies, though, potatoes, beans, or squash, or a combination of these, would make great substitutes.
I love watercress because it is easy for me to come by at my local grocery store and it reminds me just a bit of a leafy favorite, Fenugreek. It also takes far less time than Fenugreek to cook, requiring just a couple of minutes in the pot at the very end.
Here's the recipe, now. Hope you enjoy it!
Subtly Spiced Pink Lentils with Veggies
3/4 cup pink lentils (masoor dal), cooked with about 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt until tender
5 cardamom pods, bruised
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 cups cauliflower florets
2 cups mushrooms, quartered (I used crimini but feel free to use button or even portabella)
1 cup watercress leaves, chopped
1 medium tomato, diced
1 tbsp canola oil
Heat the oil in a saucepan.
Add the cardamom pods and saute for about a minute
Add the onions and cook on a medium flame until they brown at the edges.
Add the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute.
Add the cauliflower, mushrooms, turmeric, chili powder and salt to taste.
Stir, then cover and cook for about 10 minutes until vegetables are almost tender.
Add the lentils and some water, if the mixture is too thick.
Cook for about 10 minutes until the flavors assimilate.
Add the watercress and tomato and stir it in.
Turn off the heat after about two minutes of adding the watercress. Check seasoning and add more salt if needed.
Serve hot with rice and a spritz of lemon juice.