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Categories: Main courses, Vegetarian

Yellow Lentil Curry (Arhar ki Dal)

First came the onions. I peeled, sliced and fried them all morning long--mounds of onions filling three large aluminum stockpots. I sprinkled in some spices--sparsely--and stirred. Then I took three shrimp, sliced them up the middle, laid them on a ... Read more

Total time: 2 hours | Serves 6 to 8
Note: This dish is best when eaten with white basmati rice, naan bread and yogurt. Asafetida (hing) is sold at Indian markets.
  • 2 cups split yellow lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter) or 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • A pinch or a tiny lump of asafetida (hing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red chiles, optional

Step 1Rinse the lentils 3 or 4 times. Soak the lentils in the water about 1 hour. Transfer the lentils and the water to a heavy-bottomed pot, cover and cook over low heat until the lentils come to a boil, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the lid, add the salt, and let the lentils simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes. By now, the lentils should have lost their original solid shape but should not have been reduced to a sticky mush. They should be somewhere between those two extremes, sticking together and soft to the touch.

Step 2Meanwhile, heat the ghee or oil in a small, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. When the ghee is hot, but not smoky, add the cumin seeds, onion and asafetida. Cover the pan and reduce the heat as much as possible. Let the mixture simmer until the onion turns a deep brown, 15 minutes. Add the ground chiles, stir once, and immediately remove the pan from the heat. Pour the mixture into the lentils and stir.

Each of 8 servings:
88 calories; 298 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 10 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 3.72 grams fiber.
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