Recipe from How to Cook Everything.
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 40 minutes, largely unattended
The most basic dal, the staple dish of India. It’s almost always nicely spiced and becomes creamy if you add butter or oil. Dal is usually eaten hot, but you can also serve it at room temperature or even cold, to spread on toasted wedges of pita.
Other beans you can use: brown lentils, yellow split peas, split mung beans without skins (moong dal).
1 cup dried red lentils, washed and picked over
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 cardamom pods
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 dried ancho or other mild dried chile (optional)
2 tablespoons cold butter or peanut oil (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
1. Combine all the ingredients except the salt, butter or oil, and cilantro in a saucepan, add water to cover by about 1 inch, and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and keep cooking to the desired tenderness.
2. The lentils should be saucy but not soupy. Remove the cloves and, if you like, the cardamom pods (they’re kind of fun to eat, though). Stir in the butter or oil if you’re using it. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then garnish with cilantro and serve.