I made these lentils last Sunday night but I forgot to tell you about them. I got distracted by breakfast bowls and Mumbai eggs.
Bengali orange lentils are perfect if you want a quick and warming meal. The last week was pretty brutal weather-wise in St. Louis, so I DEFINITELY needed food to distract me from that.
I love the way the lentils smell when they’re cooking. I wish I could bottle it up to have all the time. It’s spicy and fragrant, but also reassuring. It makes you forget about where you are for a second and get lost in another world filled with cumin seeds and turmeric. I guess, in a sense, this dish is escapism at its finest.
I served the lentils over brown basmati rice, but feel free to eat it with naan or whatever other grain you have on hand. Full-disclosure: I also ate the lentils with some baguette because I had extra on the table. It was really good.
In other news, the sun is finally shining in St. Louis and this weekend is supposed to be beautiful. I can’t wait to go on some hikes, spend the day outdoors and put a week’s worth of shitty weather behind me.
Here’s a good song for making lentils, going on long hikes, or, you know, whenever.
Bengali Orange Lentils with Tomatoes and Cilantro (slightly adapted from Food52)
3/4 cup split orange lentils
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt, or to taste
2 medium-sized Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp ginger powder
4 green Serrano chiles, tops removed, cut in half lengthwise
3 Tbsp neutral oil (I used vegetable)
1 small red onion, diced (about 1/4 cup)
2 tsp ghee or clarified butter
1 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
torn cilantro, for garnish
In a large pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add in the orange lentils, turmeric, salt, tomatoes, ginger, and green chiles. Cover the lentils, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. For a less spicy dish, add the green chiles about 15 minutes into the cooking process. Turn of the heat and mix well. You should have a smooth, bright yellow batch of lentils, with just a hint of integrity.
Heat the oil in a separate pot, add in the onions and cook for about 6 to 7 minutes, until wilted soft and flecked golden. Add the clarified butter and the cumin seeds to the same pan (with the oil) and cook for about a minute, until the cumin seeds darken. Pour the seasoned oil and onion mixture over the lentils. Add some of the lentils into the tempering pan to sop up any remaining bit of flavored oil, then stir back into the larger pot. This is the process of creating the seasoning and tempering the lentils.
Garnish with torn cilantro. Serve hot with basmati rice or naan. Enjoy!