Mushrooms are prized by vegetarians for their earthy, addictive flavor but also for their satisfying texture that makes them a great substitute for meat. Legend or lore has it that mushrooms have been, for centuries and by many cultures, considered a prized aphrodisiac. They are also low in calories, high in fiber and potassium, and packed with antioxidants, all of which makes them great for your heart too.
Adding lentils to mushrooms sends the heart healthiness of this dish shooting into the stratosphere. Lentils, as you already know, are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. They are not only delicious, but they are also brimming with fiber, protein and friendly carbs. And all of this goodness comes with almost no fat attached. How great is that? Keep in mind that pink lentils cook up yellow, so your dish won't actually be pink (wouldn't that have been great, given the theme?)
These are busy days so I cannot chat for long, but stay tuned for more recipes in this series with more arousingly heart-healthy foods that will make Valentine's Day just that much more special.
(Makes eight servings)
1 cup pink lentils (masoor dal)
1 pound crimini mushrooms, quartered and then cut lengthwise once more so you have longish slivers
1 large onion, thinly sliced (optional. If you'd rather not eat onions on the big day, no worries. This dish is still delicious without them. Just skip the step that involves caramelizing the onions)
1 tsp sugar
1 + 1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 + 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tbsp garam masala powder
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 tsp canola or other vegetable oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup minced coriander leaves
Heat 1 tsp oil in a heavy-bottom pan and add 2 tsp of garlic and 1 tsp red pepper flakes. Saute for a few seconds, then add the lentils. Stir well, then add 3 cups of water.
Bring to a boil, then place a lid on it and cook until the lentils are really tender, about 30 minutes. (If you have a pressure cooker, you can prepare the lentils in it and cut down on the time required).
Stir in salt and pepper and reserve.
In another pan, heat 1 tsp oil and add the onions and sugar. Cook on a medium flame, stirring, until the onions are caramelized and golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the onions and reserve.
In the same pan, heat the remaining oil and add the remaining 2 tsp of garlic and the remaining red pepper flakes.
Add the mushrooms. Stir-fry the mushrooms until they soften. Add salt and black pepper and garam masala and continue cooking until the mushrooms are cooked but still have a great bite to them.
Set aside a few mushrooms for garnish and mix the dal wth the remaining mushrooms. Bring the mixture to a boil. Check seasoning, mix in fresh coriander leaves and lemon juice.
Top with the mushrooms and caramelized onions. Serve hot with the biryani.