A few weeks ago I had dinner with my friend Saskia and she made the delicious Dal Nirvana recipe from Budget Bytes. This version of the traditional Indian Dal uses pieces of that recipe with few ideas from a cookbook I’ve had for ages, Fresh Indian by Sunil Vijayakar. I further adapted this by using a number of leftovers and farmers market produce I had in the fridge. Luckily, this seems to be the kind of recipe that was made for substitutions and experimentation. This is an easy dish to throw together, has a wonderful combination of flavors, and most of the ingredients you will have on hand, no special grocery trip required! You could easily make this vegetarian by eliminating the turkey and the cream.
1 cup dry lentils
2 TB olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 inches fresh ginger, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 cups diced tomatoes (or 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1- 1 1/2 cups water, chicken, or veggie broth
2 cups cooked turkey or chicken, chopped
1/2 cup cream
2-3 cups cooked rice (I used Basmati because it’s my favorite)
Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Start your rice cooking according to package instructions. I often times substitute some of the water for chicken of vegetable broth to get a little more flavor in the rice, but cooking it with water is also totally fine.
Put the dry lentils in a heavy medium-sized pot, cover with water and bring to a boil and let it bubble away for about 10 minutes.
While the lentils are cooking chop up all your veggies. Peel the ginger before shredding, grating, or mincing it. (I don’t have a grater, so I just minced it super fine with my sharpest knife.) When the lentils are soft but not mushy, drain them into a colander and drizzle the olive oil in the still warm pot. Toss in the onion, garlic, ginger, and bell pepper. (If your turkey or chicken is raw, you can throw it in at this point and stir everything around until the meat is about 75% cooked. Then add the lentils, tomatoes, spices, and the liquid. Cover and let simmer for about 25 or 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure it doesn’t get too dry. This dish is supposed to be pretty thick, you don’t want it too watery, but you also don’t want to it to burn to the bottom of the pan.
If you are using cooked meat (i.e. leftovers), add that towards the end of the cooking and keep on the stove until it is heated through. Add the cream and stir. Serve over rice, garnished with cilantro.