Red Lentil Dal

For the best possible curry, use whole cumin and mustard seeds and saute them just prior to use. While ready-made curry spice blends are convenient, they were ground who knows how long ago? They’re stale, denatured and have compromised flavor.

It takes but a few minutes more to use whole spices. Give it a try just once and odds are you’ll toss your ground curry blends.

The secret is to first saute the whole spices, then the onion and then any ground spices. This way, the ground spices meld with the cooked onion and will not scorch. It’s these small details that make a great curry.

Serves 6 to 8

2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 ½ teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 medium red potatoes, cubed
2 ½ cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 can coconut milk
2 cups chopped tomatoes or one 14-ounch can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons sea salt

In a large 8-quart pot heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the cumin seeds and black mustard. Sauté until they begin to pop. Quickly add onions and garlic and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add turmeric, cayenne, carrots, and potatoes, sauté a few minutes more.

Add red lentils, 6 cups water and chopped tomatoes. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then let simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.  Add coconut milk and salt to taste and simmer (do not boil) for another 5 minutes. Serve.

May you be well nourished,

Rebecca Wood

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