Friday, September 13, 2013

Kaali Daal (Creamy Black Lentils)

My latest favorite recipe, modified from an Indian cookbook my teenage son gave me for Christmas a few years ago.

Kaali  Daal  (Creamy  Black  Lentils)
Serves 6 to 8

1 ½ cups (12 ounces) whole black lentils, soaked 6 to 24 hours
½ cup (4 ounces) split red lentils, rinsed
1 cup heavy cream
7 to 8 ounces plain Greek yogurt, preferably Fage Total
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons ghee, vegetable oil, or butter, or a combination, divided
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
6 to 8 serrano or jalapeño peppers, seeded, pithed, and diced
5-inch piece of fresh ginger, finely grated with microplane
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon or more salt, divided
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
Cilantro leaves for garnish
Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream for garnish

1. Drain the black lentils and place in heavy 5-quart pan with the rinsed red lentils. Add water to pan until it is about 1 inch above lentils.

2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pan, and simmer until lentils are tender, approximately 1½ hours. Check occasionally to make sure the pot is simmering. If water seems low, add a cup of water.

3. Meanwhile, in medium-sized bowl, mix together cream, yogurt, and cornstarch. Set aside.

4. In small frying pan, heat remaining 1 tablespoon ghee over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and stir until fragrant but not burnt. Set aside.

5. When lentils are done, drain some of the cooking water, leaving about a cup. The lentils then may be mashed, partially mashed, or neither. Set lentils aside to cool.
6. Heat three tablespoons of ghee in wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté onion, garlic, tomatoes, chilies, and ginger until onion is soft.

7. To onions, add turmeric, chili powder, ground cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook over medium heat 2 minutes.

8. When lentils have cooled to close to room temperature, stir in toasted cumin seeds.

9. Stir in cream mixture until well-combined

10. Stir in sautéed onion mixture.

11. Stir in 2 teaspoons or more salt to taste.

12. Warm daal over medium heat without allowing it to boil.

13. Serve in bowls and, if desired, place a dollop of yogurt or sour cream on top and a few cilantro leaves.

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