I whipped this together tonight in maybe 35 minutes while on the phone helping Rebecca figure out her taxes. As such it was done in a pretty Spartan manner, but came out well. Had I been paying more attention, I probably would’ve gone in a quasi-Indian direction and added mustard seeds and cumin seeds (maybe 1 tsp each) with the onion and a couple cloves of chopped garlic along with the lentils, with some ground turmeric and coriander at the end. Likewise, regardless of ethnic direction, I would have added a large chopped tomato at the end if it weren’t March in New England. As it was, it was tasty in a nice comfort-foody way (the only herb I used was dried basil).
The key is the red lentils, which are more delicate and thus faster-cooking than other types of lentils/dal/split peas. The recipe here is an informal codification of what I threw together.
– about 3 cups of water, very hot
– 2 Tbsp neutrally-flavored oil (I used light olive oil – canola oil or butter would’ve been fine)
– 1 onion, chopped
– 1 medium potato, chopped finely
– 1 ½ cups red lentils
– 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
– salt, pepper and herbs to taste
1) Get the water boiling in a kettle or pot
2) heat up the oil, medium-hot, in a pot/skillet that has a tight-fitting lid (you’ll need that later)
3) throw in the onions, stirring occasionally while you chop the potato, then throw that in and do the same with the mushrooms, and then once they go in, add the lentils
4) cook maybe 5 minutes, stirring somewhat frequently
5) pour the hot water over the mixture until just submerged, and then cover the pot.
6) stir every few minutes, and then add more water (again, just enough to submerge) if/when the first batch of water evaporates and cook a few more minutes.
7) add salt & pepper and ethnically-appropriate (if you care about such things) herbs and remove cover, stirring for another 5 minutes or until you’re satisfied with the extent to which the fluids have cooked off.
8) serve on a tortilla or over rice or other grain, with condiments that make sense for the direction you went (salsa/cheese or yogurt/chutney or whatever).