Recipe adapted from: http://www.eatingwell.com
I’ve always loved eating Indian foods, and I recently realized I love cooking Indian dishes as much as eating them. There is something magical about the process of layering ingredients and the spices – Aroma changes as each element is added and getting increasingly complex, then once everything is mixed and finished cooking, suddenly all the flavors are merged together to form one perfectly balanced taste as if it was meant to be. Truly fascinating.
I think this dish epitomizes such joy, but without having to go through elaborated steps. Red lentils are cooked with cinnamon and turmeric to bring out the nutty sweetness, while onion, garlic and ginger are pan fried with cumin seeds and coriander. Once the ingredients have completely absorbed wonderful flavor of spices respectively, everything is combined then further cooked with diced mango until the fruit becomes soften and jammy, and lentils are broken down. It is a fairly simple and easy dish to make, but has such an unbelievably intoxicating flavor that will make you cook it again and again. I sometimes serve this for guests and always get asked for the recipe.
The original recipe comes from eatingwell.com, which I think is a great source of tasty and healthy recipes that are also creative but practical. I slightly tweaked ingredients and the amount of spices after a few tries then jotted down my favorite combination on notepad, and for the longest time, have repeatedly gotten panicked every time I couldn’t find that stained, frail and almost unreadable piece of paper, thinking I had lost it. This post could be my most meaningful usage of internet yet (next to viewing cats playing patty cake on YouTube) as I can finally put that stress to the rest.
I usually serve this curry on basmati rice with a heap of cilantro on top, and make a quick Raita to accompany the dish (diced cucumber mixed in yogurt with a bit of salt, ground cumin and grated garlic and a squeeze of half/quarter of a lemon). I don’t have my dish very spicy so I use only a dash of cayenne pepper, but feel free to make modifications as necessary. Don’t be afraid to make a bigger batch and pack it for lunch – It tastes even better next day!
RECIPE (2 servings)
- ½ cup red lentils
- 2 cups water or soup stock – I tend to add a bit (a half or quarter) of soup stock cube to taste
- ½ teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ teaspoon canola oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- A dash of cayenne pepper (add more if you would like your dish spicy)
- 1 mango, peeled and diced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Combined rinsed lentils, 2 cups water, ¼ teaspoon salt, turmeric and a cinnamon stick in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and cook until fragrant and starting to brown, about 30 seconds. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft and beginning to brown 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, cayenne and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring until flavors are combined for 1 minute more.
- Stir lentil into the onion mixture and add mango. Bring it to boil and reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally until the lentils are falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes more.
- Serve over basmati rice, topped with cilantro.