Fall is finally here. Its my favorite season. The changing of the leaves, the slight chill in the air, and the rain, oh the beautiful rain in Holland which offers it in plenty. Some of you are probably thinking, she’s a nutcase! Rain and that too in the winter. Call me weird but rain makes me happy, very happy, in any season. This season of course calls for lots of comfort food and indian food is one of the best comfort foods you will find. Wholesome and hearty, I am here to share some of those recipes.
For my first recipe, I would like to share a lentil recipe that I learned from my mother. Lentils, because it is the biggest part of nearly every meal in India especially for vegetarians like me (or should I call myself a fake one since I do eat chicken now!). Even though I was never really allowed to touch anything or cook in moms kitchen, I guess so much time is spent in a kitchen in India that I picked up a lot just by observing.
So, its going to be brown lentils today or whole masoor daal. And, since it is whole it does take a long time to cook (so keep that in mind when planning) and I would advise using a pressure cooker. IF you don’t have a pressure cooker. GO BUY ONE! (just kidding!). Remember though it will take nearly double the time to cook this lentil without one. A simple lentil and the perfect comfort food.
Brown Lentil Soup
100 grams brown lentils
4½ cups water
2 cloves of garlic (finely sliced)
2 medium sized red onions (finely cubed)
1 tomato (in small cubes)
¼ tsp chilli powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tbsp oil
salt to taste &
a handful of cilantro
Start by boiling the lentils in a pressure cooker. I usually add only a teaspoon of salt before closing the lid. I remember mom putting the dry spices in too, but I find it better to fry them with the onions as I shall explain later. Lid of pressure cooker closed, whistle affixed, put the cooker on high flame and give it 2 whistles. Don’t you just love the sound of the whistle going? I do.
Reduce to low flame after and let simmer and cook for at least 40 minutes. IF you insist (!) on using no pressure cooker, then just boil the lentils open in a deep pan and wait for them to get mushy.
While your lentil slowly cooks, prepare the masala or the spices that will get mixed into the lentils once it is done. In a shallow non-stick pan, pour in your oil and let it get nice and hot on high flame. Around 2 minutes. Throw in the chopped onions and watch them sputter. Next put the garlic which I usually slice real thin. I find it looks so much prettier that way. Let the onions and garlic get nice and brown, even a little black. This way they will be nicely caramelised and crisp. Once you are happy with the color of the onions, add the cilantro. Leave just a little bit of the cilantro for garnishing later on.
Add the tomatoes now. And let them turn a deep red and soak in all the juices from the onions and the cilantro. The fragrance is divine!
Right in the end, add the dry spices. Let fry for 2-3 minutes and set aside.
Your lentils should be ready by now, if using a pressure cooker.
Take the pressure cooker off the gas. The fastest way to get the lid off is to just put the cooker under running cold water. Within a second you will hear the air release. Open your cooker and throw in the onion, tomato spice mixture and mix well.
And while it rains outside and the weather turns, indulge your taste buds to a burst of flavors. Eat as soup or serve with steaming hot basmati rice. Or better still, combine with an Indian spicy cauliflower dish that I will share with you next!