Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dal Nirvana


I am so excited about this dish. I have been craving Indian food for the better part of a year, and could finally wait no more. It is one of my favorite cuisines. You may be surprised, but when I was living in Cincinnati, I could get incredible Indian food at about 3 or more different restaurants within walking distance of my apartment. Incredible Indian restaurants in the midwest? Yes, I kid you not. I don't know why, but I never complained. Wow, just thinking about it is making me excited about being back in the Queen City.

My favorite dish is chicken tikka masala, and I order it every time. It's probably one of my most favorite meals on the planet actually. Though this isn't tikka masala, this dal nirvana is...well...nirvana. It completely hit the spot. It was just spicy enough, though could set your mouth on fire if you wanted it to, and was ever so flavorful. I also had barely enough lentils left in the cabinet, so this was perfect, as I'm trying to use stuff up since we're moving back to the states next month.

If you're not really familiar with Indian food, I urge you to give this dish a try. It was incredibly easy to make, and I just loved it. I wish I had more leftover! It fed me and Chris, and we'll probably have just enough for a meal tomorrow, or *ahem* maybe even dinner tonight. Also, see that beautiful stack of naan? Yeah...I made them (does happy dance). I want to play around with the recipe more before sharing, but for now, here is the recipe for this divine meal. Enjoy!

Dal Nirvana

Ingredients

1 cup dry brown lentils
2 gloves garlic
1 inch fresh ginger 
1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (the amount depends on how spicy you want it...I used 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (this spice isn't as common I guess, and is optional, but I loved the addition)
4 tablespoons butter
1 15oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup cream
Chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish

Directions

Pick through lentils, and remove any stones if you find any (I've never found any until today!). Place lentils in a pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, and boil until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the lentils in a colander.

While the lentils are boiling, mince the garlic, and peel and grate the ginger (using a small hole cheese grater).*

Over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the garlic, ginger, cayenne, turmeric, salt, and pepper, and cook for about 1 minute. Add the lentils, tomatoes, and water. Stir it all together. Bring it to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, and cover. The mixture should be soft and thick after a half hour. If it's not, continue to simmer, adding more water if it dries out. You want the end product to be thick, not watery.

Once cooked, remove from heat, and stir in the cream. Garnish with cilantro, and serve over rice or with naan for dipping. Or better yet, both like we did!

*I started keeping fresh ginger in the freezer, as I could never seem to use it all. Just pull it out, peel the amount you plan to use and you can grate it while frozen. When you're done, throw it back in the freezer for later use. Alternately, you could grate all the ginger, then freeze, pulling off chunks as you need it. No more wasted ginger! :)

Recipe Source: adapted from Budget Bytes

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