Compared to other dried beans/legumes lentils are relatively easy to prepare. Readily absorbing flavors, rich in fiber, in protein, in nutritional value, lentils are perfect for those who want to rely less on meat. The green and brown lentils are more commonly used, but today we are looking at my favorite – the red sisters.
Want to cook lentils but want to get them done quick? Split red lentils will do the trick. Red lentils (sometimes called Egyptian lentils) are actually salmon in color and cook quick. Their downside is that they don’t keep their shape if overcooked. But overcooked lentils – otherwise called lentil mash – is a perfect base for a stew. A versatile lentil, indeed.
For two cups of lentils, you will need 4 cups of water, 2 medium onions, 2 medium tomatoes, curry leaves, mustard seeds, turmeric powder, fenugreek (also called methi), pepper, salt, 2 cloves of garlic, and 1 cayenne pepper.
To piping hot oil in a pan add about 1/3 tsp of mustard seeds, couple fenugreek seeds, and a couple curry leaves. Make sure you quickly close with lid to minimize spatter. (The fenugreek aids digestion, but don’t use too much as it will make your dish bitter.) The mustard seeds will split and both mustard and fenugreek seed and curry leaf will infuse the oil. Lower heat and add the 2 chopped onions, and once they have sweated
(glistening but not browned) add the two crushed cloves, pepper and salt to taste, and a couple pinches of turmeric powder. After a few minutes add the chopped tomatoes and the cayenne pepper. After a few minutes of simmering add the washed lentils (sometimes they will have stones etc depending on the quality of your lentil source) and water. Cook for about ten minutes.
Note that the amount of water you use determines how much of a curry your dish is like. If you don’t like too much liquid left when the lentils are ready to eat, use less water. Also, while lentils store well, the older they are the longer they need to cook and so water needs to be adjusted accordingly.
For those who don’t like curries: You can do away with all the ingredients, and simply add salt and pepper to taste. Then the lentils become even easier to make too.