I love Indian food and have plenty of Indian cookbooks, but also enjoy checking out new cookbooks at the library to try out new recipes. Sometimes I come across a winner. A newly published vegetarian Indian cookbook I recently checked out turned out to be a keeper. “Fresh India” by Meera Sodha and also a copy of her other cookbook “Made in India” (not vegetarian but has lots of vegetarian and vegan recipes) are recent additions to my shelf and I’ve been using them regularly. I’ve cooked a lot of Indian food over the years and these two books have helped me create in some incredibly flavorful Indian dishes.
If you have an Indian grocery store nearby it’s worth it picking up some fresh curry leaves for this dish. When fried in a little oil along with other Indian spices, they turn crisp and develop a divine citrusy fragrance. But the dal will be delicious without them too. Toor is a yellow lentil and will take about an hour to get soft. You can substitute red lentils which cook in under 30 minutes. The textures are different, but both are good. The rest of the ingredients should be available in most grocery stores.
Don’t forget to put on some basmati rice. After rinsing and draining the rice, put it in a pot, add the water (1 cup rice to 1 1/2 cups water) and let the rice sit for about 20 minutes before cooking. Rice cookers measure the amount of water differently, so check your manual. Regardless of the method you use let the rice rest. This helps the grain relax and cook up perfectly fluffy every time!
What you need:
- 1 1/2 cups toor dal or red lentils
- 2 whole star anise
- neutral vegetable oil
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- a few whole cloves
- 1 fresh green chili, thinly sliced
- 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
- 3 to 4 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons honey or agave syrup
- fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup crushed peanuts
Wash and drain the lentils well.
Put the lentils and star anise to a deep pot and cover with 1 1/2 inches of water.
Bring to a boil and then simmer over medium heat until soft.
Keep an eye on the water level. Add a little more if it gets to dry.
In the meantime, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a wide skillet.
Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, green chili and half of the curry leaves.
Stir-fry until the spices are fragrant.
Add the tomatoes and continue to cook until they are soft.
Next, add the turmeric, salt, honey or agave syrup and lemon juice.
Cook and stir until everything is well blended.
Add the lentils to the tomatoes when they are soft.
Continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.
In a separate small pan heat a tablespoon of oil.
When hot add the rest of the curry leaves and the crushed peanuts.
When they are fragrant and getting crisp turn off the heat.
Add them to the lentils and combine everything.
What is your favorite Indian dish?