One of my favorite comfort foods is a good lentil dish. A member of the legume family, one cup of lentils contains only 230 calories and is packed with iron, fiber, and protein. Lentils can help in lowering the risk for heart disease, are full of maganese, folate, and copper (for more on copper, see Interesting tidbits at the end of this post). Really, the lentil is a superfood!
In addition to being healthy, lentils are easy to cook and they absorb flavor very well. Lentils make a great substitute for meat. Post Punk Kitchen creates many delicious recipes using lentils. My great grandmother from Naples made lentils often. I never tried her recipe, and it was lost through the generations. I did find a Lentil and Sausage Soup recipe by Maria Esposito. I was fortunate enough to meet her at an event for the release of her most recent cookbook, Ciao Italia with Maria Ann Esposito. I recommend checking it out. It was not until I started eating dal (also dhal, daal, or dahl) that I could really have a true appreciation for the lentil. I became hooked after traveling to India for a wedding back in 2009 (I will expand upon my trip in a future post). It was in Chandigarh that I had my first thali, a combination plate served in little metal dishes which usually includes dal.
|Vegetable Thali - Chandigarh, India|
For this recipe, I purchased some green lentils from one of my favorite Armenian markets in Watertown, MA. called Arax. I have tried a few Armenian Lentil dishes containing a delicious mix of bulgur with lentils. I typically use green lentils when cooking, but you can use any color. I found a great online reference listing some different types of Lentils. I am told that there is not really a difference in flavor, but people do have preferences as to which type to use for certain recipes. I enjoy experimenting with spices and may have gone a little spice crazy with this one. Perhaps I will consult with some dal experts next time and make some masoor dal or dal makhani. This dish will pair well with with chicken, tofu or anything else bland since it has so much flavor. I find the taste of cumin to be a little overpowering, so I would use less next time. I would also maybe use a little less sage, and add in some garlic. Your home will definitely smell wonderful while this dish is cooking! Add vegetables, potatoes, or any of your favorite ingredients. This versatile dish will keep you warm in the winter months!
2 cups lentils
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
(measurements for the spices are in the photo below)
1 cinnamon stick
Be sure to wash the lentils very well. Wash and drain until water is clear. Next, place lentils in a pot on medium high heat with water at a level so the lentils are just covered. Add the oil to a pan and saute the onions with a dash of salt and pepper for a few minutes. Next, add all of the spices except for the cinnamon stick. Saute until well mixed for another few minutes. Add onion mixture and cinnamon stick to the lentils. Mix well. Lower heat and simmer. The longer this simmers, the better. I left it for a few hrs adding water when it became too thick. It will definitely thicken up.
|almost forgot the cardamom!|
Copper is an essential component in the formation of cells that protect against free radicals, aids in the transport of oxygen into red blood cells, strengthening of connective tissue, and also is great for healthy functioning of brain cells. The body can regulate and store excess copper in the GI system via the liver. Deficiency is rare, but could happen in cases of malnutrition.