After a day out on Alameda Island, I stopped at a store to buy some drinks. I happened across an interesting looking corner market and went in. Although not clearly stated as such, it appeared to a Turkish shop and I could have spent a good while perusing the shelves. Instead I grabbed some cold drinks and picked up a bag of Sadaf mixed lentils. The lentils caught my eye with such a pretty mix of faded pastel colors.
Trouble is, I had no recipe and found none while searching. So I needed to improvise. The following is a recipe that evolved from my spicy dal recipe. The general plan is cook lentils in water for a long while, then in a separate pan cook some seasoning. Mix the two and enjoy. Like that dal, this can be eaten hot or cold.
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup mixed lentils (Sadaf's mixture seems to be about equal parts green peas, yellow peas, green lentils, and red lentils)
Rinse the lentils and put in a suitably sized sauce pan on full heat. When it reaches a boil, lower heat and skim off the foam. Add then cover (with slight vent) and simmer:
- 1" to 2" ginger, peeled and cut in thirds
- 1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder
- 2 or 3 bay leaves
Let that go for a while. Figure 30 to 60 minutes depending on how low your low heat is. Give it a stir every once in a while and add more water if it seems prematurely dry. What you are looking for is some of the lentils to have broken down to create a thick broth and some to still be whole.
When it seems about ready, time start the temper. Get a small to medium fry pan heating with:
- 1 tablesoon of oil, or substitute ghee for all or part of the oil
When hot add one at a time:
- 1 teaspoon of whole cumin
- a pinch of asafoetida powder (aka "hing")
- 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
When the cumin has been toasted for 30 seconds or so, add
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 5 or 6 cloves garlic, minced
On medium-high heat, cook mixing frequently until the onions start to brown. Then it's time to look back to the lentil pan. Turn off heat and fish out and discard the ginger and bay leaves. With those out of the way, add all of the contents of the frying pan to the sauce pan. Mix the temper into the lentils along with:
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
I've eaten it as a side with rice and curried vegetables, and as a cold spread on warm pita, like I would have hummus. As a main dish, I'd find it wanting some more texture and some more greens. And unfortunately, the colors cook out to leave basically just a light green.