Friday, January 14, 2011

Such a Dal!

According to Genesis, Esau traded his birthright to his tricky brother Jacob for a bowl of lentils.  We're not saying that this dish warrants such extreme recompense, but we do recommend it as a healthy, hearty, vegetarian dish that pleases even the most carnivorous of crowds.  And, it helps with New Year's Resolution #8  :  Eat vegetarian at least once a week.  Incidentally, this seems to be a growing trend; The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that  Meatless Mondays are being adopted by more and more households.  We here at  Philly Food Lovers always try to be on the front end of trends (boy bands and 80's fashion notwithstanding), so this is right up our alley.

Just because you forego meat does not mean you have to sacrifice taste and substance.  Dal--our favorite vegetarian Lentil Stew-- is delicious, healthy, and easy to make. We don't expect you to swear off steak eternally at first the spoonful, or relinquish your inheritance like the naive Esau, but we're pretty sure you'll enjoy it and feel sated, even without the animal protein. Dal is a traditional Indian side dish, usually served over basmati rice, but we love it solo as a soup, too. Power-packed lentils contain 13 grams of protein per serving and a whopping 16 grams of fiber; do your bod and the earth some good and try it for dinner one night. We promise, guys, you'll still have hair on your chest afterwards.

Dal (Vegetarian Indian Lentil Stew)

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp ground chipotle powder
1/4 tsp crushed chili flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp curry powder or your favorite Indian spice blend (Garam Masala, Tandoori Masala, etc.)
1 lb lentils, rinsed
7 cups water

In large stock pot heat oil on medium-high. Add spices, ginger and onions. Stir til spices are fragrant and onion begins to soften, 3-4 minutes. Add lentils and water, and bring to boil. Stir and lower heat to simmer. Simmer, covered, 1-2 hours or more til lentils are completely soft.  This dish keeps in fridge 3-4 days, and can be frozen for several months. NOTE: all spices may be adjusted for personal taste; increase amounts to make the dish more robust. You can also add a couple of whole dried chilis to ramp up the heat.

Not worth an entire estate, alas, poor Esau, but certainly worth the minimal effort it takes to toss this potage together for a warming winter bowl of goodness.

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