Monday, January 28, 2008

Winter Eats: Red Lentils

Let's be honest: I'm poor. And since I don't qualify for the Earned Income Credit until I'm 25 (OK, so legal adulthood, voting, porn, smoke, & war at 18; booze at 21; rental cars and EIC at 25? Seriously, give it up for inane, arbitrary bureaucracy.), I gotta save that cheese any and every way I can. There aren't too many dishes I can take to work every day of the week and
  1. Know it's costing me less than 25¢ a meal.

  2. Enjoy it 5 days in a row.

  3. Know it's not going to get evil in the fridge, causing uncomfortable (albeit; paid) breaks regularly throughout a given afternoon.

  4. and
  5. Get a complete vegetarian protein by combining with rice.

1 c. red lentils (you can use any color, really, i just prefer the taste/texture of red)
3-4 tbsp. oil/margarine
1 lg. onion (diced)
5 to 10 cloves garlic (minced; depends how much garlic you like, I usually go with 7.)
2 tbsp. Lentil Daal seasoning (you can buy this pre-mixed/packaged for really cheap; or substitute your own mixture of cumin, coriander, garam masala, chili powder, ginger...etc.)
1 can diced tomatoes (or, 3-4 fresh 'uns, diced. but don't buy 'em in winter; who knows how many time zones/continental divides/civil wars they had to travel across.)
5-6 c. water

Rinse and then soak your lentils for 1 hr., picking out any impurities. (You don't have to soak them, but it'll help your digestion if you're not in tune with legumes.) Drain (anal chefs may wish to rinse again).

Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a pot, then cook onions for a few minutes. Next, add the spices and garlic, letting it all cook for another minute or so. Then, add in your tomatoes, lentils, and water. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add final tbsp. of oil at the end to give it that nice sheen.

If you like you can mash it a bit, making the texture more more thick-soup like. Some fresh cilantro goes good on top as a contrast, and don't forget rice or naan as a base. Let it cool before you refrigerate, and the next day it'll thicken; should keep for at least a week.

Once again, spring for some cilantro and presentation on this one is almost too easy. With the spices, and the cooking time fading the red lentils, the dish takes on a golden, glossy hue. As for the the Goat's Head Soup deconstruction, expect that soon. Had to go veg for a day. Another day, another daal--er?

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