A few years ago when I was in college and cooking for myself, I went on a semi-vegan kick after reading Skinny Bitch. I was a vegetarian at that time but my Wisconsin roots (aka cheese) and love for pork made the vegan, and vegetarian stints short ones.
Dal was a lunch-time staple for me and I made it on an almost weekly basis. I may have burnt myself out on it a few years ago, but after reading Mark Bittman’s article in the New York Times, Elevating Simple Legumes, Just Enough, I had added Dal to my weekly menu and couldn’t wait another week to make it. Out of the many dal recipes in the article – the Lentils with Curried Tarka caught my eyes. And my tastebuds. Lentils cooked in coconut milk? Curry, scallion and lemon zest -infused butter? Combined for one decedent bean dish. And while serving naan along side it seemed a little redundant on the starch side, what better way to enjoy the classic Indian dish. Vegetables can wait another day.
Lentils with Curried Tarka adapted from New York Times
- 1/3 cup dried brown lentils
- 1 1/2 cups mix of coconut milk and vegetable stock (I ended up needing a lot more than this throughout the cooking process)
- 2 Tbsp coconut butter (coconut oil would work better)
- 1 bunch chopped scallions
- 1 Tbsp curry powder
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- chopped cilantro leaves
In a medium saucepan, combine lentils and liquid and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn heat down to medium-low so that the mixture bubbles gently, cover partly and cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are just tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Add liquid as necessary to keep them a little soupy.
Put butter in a skillet over medium heat until it is melted (I realized that coconut butter doesn’t melt very well which is why I would recommend coconut oil) Add scallions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cook and stir for another minute or so. Add a large pinch of salt and some pepper.
When lentils are cooked to desired tenderness, stir scallion mixture into the lentils. Dal should be moist but not soupy; if it is not, add more water and heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve.