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Red Lentils Tarka

Source: Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking
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Rating: 4   Reviews: 1 See Reviews
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Active Time:  10 Minutes
Total Time:  45 Minutes
  Serves 8
Indians tend to eat protein-rich legumes with many everyday meals. Often these are prepared with just a flavoring, or tarka, of whole cumin seeds, asafetida, and whole chilies popped in hot oil or ghee. Mustard seeds and a choice of garlic, curry leaves, onions, even tomatoes may be added to this tarka. I have used red lentils here, partly because they are sold by all health food shops and make the shopping very easy, but mainly because they cook faster than most other traditional dals (split peas). Serve this dish with plain rice and a simple meat or vegetable. Yogurt relishes and pickles make good accompaniments.
1 1/2 cups fresh lentils (masoor dal)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
Generous pinch of ground asafetida
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 to 5 dried, hot red chilies
Red Lentils Tarka Recipe at
Pick over the lentils and wash in several changes of water. Drain. Put in a heavy saucepan. Add 5 cups water and the turmeric. Stir and bring to a simmer. (Do not let it boil over.) Cover in such a way as to leave the lid just very slightly ajar, turn the heat to low, and simmer gently for 35 to 40 minutes or until tender. Stir a few times during the cooking. Add the salt and mix. Leave covered, on very low heat, as you do the next step.

Put the oil in a small frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the asafetida; then, a second later, the cumin seeds. Let the cumin seeds sizzle for a few seconds. Put in the red chilies. As soon as they turn dark red (this takes just a few seconds), lift up the lid of the lentil pan and pour in the contents of the frying pan, oil as well as spices. Cover the saucepan immediately to trap the aromas.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Date Added: 01/01/2008
Part of These Recipe Collections Find Similar Recipes »
 Lentil Stews
Nutrition Facts per Serving
Yield:   Serves 8
Calories: 171
Sodium: 368mg
Fiber: 11g
Carbohydrates, Total: 21g
Protein: 10g
% Cal. from Fat: 32%
Fat. Total: 6g
Spotlight Recipe Review See all 1 reviews »

Rating: 4
by: Lynne, ON Reviewed: 11/26/2008
My husband loved this, but I found it a bit bland. Next time I will use a bit more pepper, perhaps cayenne. Since I didn't have any asafetida, I substituted a large clove of garlic, minced and 1/3 cup chopped onion. Wilt these in the oil before adding the cumin seed.
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