What is your favorite lentil? Indian brown lentil also called masoor dal, is my absolute favorite. There is something about the mild earthy flavor with aromatic Indian spices and spicy hot ginger, that is so comforting. It reminds you of how simple food that mother earth has blessed us with can be far more soothing and warming, warmth that comes from within, that no food out of box can do. That is the beauty of real food.
That, and that brown lentils are the only lentils M doesn't really care for. On the other hand, growing up the only lentil I ate were brown lentils served with rice. But I grew up and M didn't. Our marriage survives on mutual love of another brown thing though, called chocolate. Just that.
Over the years I have found that the addition of bell peppers and ginger to this basic recipe lessens his dislike and assures a peaceful day. The green peppers add a lovely smoky and spicy base but you could easily use red or yellow bell peppers too. The mint beautifully rounds all the earthy flavors and aroma the lentil naturally has. The other day we served it to our guests with naan and avocado ginger mash. I wish I had taken pictures because it took it whole new level of deliciousness.
Masoor Dal with Bell Peppers and Avocado Ginger Mash
Serves 2- 3
1 cup whole brown lentils, masoor dal *
1 green/red bell pepper, cubed
1/2 cup red onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup tomatoes, finely cubed
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1-2 green chilies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick, 2 inch
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Handful of mint and julienne ginger for garnish
Avocado Ginger Mash
1 ripe avocado
2 tbsp red onion
1 tbsp mint, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp ginger, grated
1/2 tsp lemon juice
A pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
* You can experiment with other lentils too, as long as you adjust the cooking time it should taste good.
Soak the lentil for half an hour if possible. Par boil them and drain. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds and cinnamon, followed by ginger garlic paste. Once they cook out , add onions and bell pepper till lightly browned. Yes, the bell peppers are part of the masala!
Add turmeric powder, red chilly powder, black pepper and coriander powder. Once they loose their rawness , add the tomatoes and cook till it forms into a paste.
Add the lentils, season with salt and garam masala. Cover and cook till the lentils are tender but still retain their shape. About 10 minutes.
If you plan to serve it with rice, its a good idea to retain some of the stock in which you boiled the lentils and add it along with the lentils to have some gravy to soak your rice in.
To make avocado mash, mix the mashed avocado with rest of ingredients.
Garnish the lentils with mint, ginger and wedge of lemon and serve avocado ginger mash on the side.