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Lehsuni daal – cumin & garlic lentils

Lentils with cumin and garlicCurries are the most incredibly tasty but difficult thing to get right. Living in gloriously curry-filled Birmingham for three years there wasn’t any point for me in making it at home, when take-away was so reliably tasty and cheap. It seems to me that nothing gets as good, and as unpretentious, as Birmingham curries. No London eateries seemed to mend this feeling, and in Brussels I rarely come across curry houses. These lentils are just perfect, as after lots of trial and testing I think I’ve somewhat managed to replicate a sort of Brummie daal at home.

I believe the trick is in the golden brown abundance of garlic, toasted cumin seeds and fenugreek. As a bonus, your place will smell of curry for three days afterwards.

Lehsuni daalYou need:

– 1 mug red lentils
– 3 mugs water
– 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
– 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed in large pieces
– 1 tsp turmeric
– 8 garlic cloves
– 1 1/5 tsp whole cumin seeds
– 1-2 tbsp butter (or even better, ghee)
– 2 tbsp Worcestersauce
– 1/5 tsp Ground fenugreek
– Salt
– Nutmeg
– Dried chili flakes (adjust to your preferred heat)

Daal ingredientsRinse the lentils, and boil them on low heat together with the onion, potatoes, mustard seeds and turmeric. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes have softened and the lentils have broken down. You want a consistency somewhere between a stew and a thick soup.

When this is about done, melt the butter/ghee in pan, fry the cumin seeds until they stop sizzling, then add the garlic and fry until it’s light brown. Toss in a few pinches of fenugreek for aroma. Stir this mix into the lentils.

Flavour with chili flakes or cayenne pepper for some heat, add plenty of salt, and worcester sauce until (I know this sounds like an odd addition to a curry, but it’s brilliant). Serve with plenty of condiments (lime pickle, hot sauce, chopped coriander, yoghurt and mango chutney) and eat yourself into a slight food coma.

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