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Yellow Lentils

Warm and comforting is the style of food that I am after right now and quick and easy doesn’t hurt either! This dish of yellow lentils is exactly that. Any cooked legume can be considered a “dahl” but traditionally one associates this dish with the yellow or red lentils that are often used when preparing an Indian dahl. The very first time I ever tasted an Indian dahl was when I was a freshman in college and a friend of mine, who had recently spent a year in India, took me to an Indian restaurant to sample the cuisine. My first bite was of a lentil soup or “toor dahl” made with bright yellow lentils, ginger, garlic, fragrant curry spices and delightful little mustard seeds. From that first bite I was hooked. The rest of what we ate was fantastic too but this bowl of delectable, warm and hearty, fragrantly spiced dahl had my taste buds soaring and from then on I knew I would be in love with the Indian food and their way of cooking. My friend Sarah and I went back to that restaurant many times during our first year together at a State University in upstate New York (SUNY) and she told me many stories about her adventures in India. Stories about volunteering at a homeless girls’ shelter there, about how she learned to enjoy sleeping on a mat on the floor, eating as a strict vegetarian (even though at the time she wasn’t) and then becoming one after her return and most of all about the comradery she experienced there with the women who ran the shelter and the girls themselves. Sarah and I were fast friends from the start even though we had only just met in one of our classes at the beginning of the school year. She and I were kindred spirits and I am forever indebted to her for sharing her love of the Indian culture and their cuisine with me.


Indian Yellow Dahl

Adapted from Mark Bittman‘s Spiced Red Lentil Dal

A Pot of Gold

1 1/2 cups Yellow Lentils

3 cups Water

1 can Coconut Milk

1 medium Onion diced

3 cloves Garlic finely chopped

3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

2-3 tablespoons Ginger finely chopped

3 whole Cloves

1 tablespoon Mustard Seeds

1 tablespoon Curry Powder

1/2 tablespoon Salt

Pepper and/or Red Pepper to taste *Optional

Cilantro for garnish *Optional

In a large soup pot or dutch oven heat the oil. Saute the onions until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cloves, mustard seeds and curry powder. Saute for a couple of minutes stirring constantly so the garlic won’t burn. When the garlic and spices are fragrant add the water and lentils and stir to combine. Simmer on medium high heat, covered for about 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the coconut milk, salt and peppers to taste and continue to cook with the lid off until the dahl is the desired consistency. I like mine to be thick but still soup like. Serve with chopped fresh cilantro on top. Enjoy!


Indian Dahl