Bengali Red Dal Curry from Jake
I’ve written on this blog more than once about my feelings of intimidation about making authentic Indian food, and confessed that I use things like Pataks Biryani Paste
when I get that Indian food craving. This fear of Indian cooking is still alive somewhere in my cooking psyche, but when my 20-something nephew Jake raved about a dal recipe he’d made, and then showed up at my house with this fantastic dish, I realized I need to get over it.
Jake is a good cook, an almost-vegetarian, and a fan of Indian food, and he found this recipe
online and pretty much followed it exactly except for removing the dried red chiles at the end. The recipe was posted by Jonathan Kandell, but I don’t know if he created the recipe or was just reposting it. Maybe he’ll google his name sometime and find it here. However the recipe came about, it was an incredibly flavorful blend of interesting tastes. If there are readers who are more knowledgeable about this type of food than I am, please chime in about the five spice mixture used here, something I’m learning about for the first time.
Bengali Red Dal Curry
(Recipe posted online here by Jonathan Kandell, shared with Kalyn by her nephew Jake. Reposted with only slight editorial changes to the recipe by Kalyn.)
Key spice used in this recipe:
spice Mix, also known as Five Spice – do not substitute Chinese Five Spice! Mixture consists of equal proportions of whole cumin, fenugreek, anise, mustard, and kalunji (“Indian black onion” seed). You will need to go to an Indian Store to get the last ingredient if you make your own. It is not related to the onion.
(Note from Kalyn added 2-26-07 – Jonathan Kandell spelled the spice mixture Panch Phanon, but after reading about this Bengali Five Spice Mixture
online, I have changed the spelling, since it seemed to be spelled with an *r* everywhere I saw it. Thanks to Sandeepa
for the tip to look up Panch Phoron
on Wikipedia. Apparently you can buy the Panch Phoron already mixed or you can mix your own
1 1/2 C red lentils
3 1/2 C water
6 serrano chilies (or 3 jalepeno?) either whole or sliced in quarters
1/4 t turmeric, or more to taste
1 1/2 t salt
4 T ghee, butter or vegetable oil
(I would probably use coconut oil, which would make this recipe vegan)
1 C minced onions
1 C chopped tomatoes
1 T grated fresh ginger
2 T ghee or vegetable oil
1 T Panch Phoron spice mix
4 dried small red chilies
1-3 cloves garlic
There are three basic steps to this recipe: cooking the lentils in water, making a tomato/onion/ginger mush, and making a spiced oil.
1. Rinse lentils well, add water, serrano chilies, turmeric and salt. Bring carefully to boil and cook over low to medium heat, partially covered, for 25 minutes. Cover and cook another 10 minutes. Adjust salt.
2. While lentils are cooking, cook onions in a frying pan in the oil until they are golden brown (approximately 10 minutes), stirring constantly. Add tomatoes and ginger and continue cooking until the tomatoes decompose into a delicious and fragrant mush (approximately 8 minutes.) Stir constantly so that tomato mixture doesn’t stick. Turn heat to low if necessary.
3. Scrape out this mush into the lentils and stir it in. Let lentils sit while you make the spiced oil.
4. Do a quick rinse of the frying pan, without soap, and dry thoroughly. Add the remaining 2T oil and heat over medium high heat. When oil is hot add panch phanon mix and heat until the seeds begin to pop, about 15 seconds. Add red chilies and fry for another 15 seconds, until they turn a little darker. Turn off heat and add the crushed garlic and let sizzle for about 30 seconds. Stir this mixture into the lentil/tomato mixture and serve with rice. Adjust salt.
Jake adds this note to the recipe: Dried small red chilies have a burnt taste and should be taken out of the final dish.
This would be great served with rice, but when Jake brought it to my house, we just ate a bowl of it alone. I had eaten nearly half of mine with enthusiasm before I had the presence of mind to try to take a few photos so I could share it here.
South Beach Suggestions:
Oil would be better than ghee or butter if you’re making this for South Beach. Dried beans and lentils are considered a “good carb” for any phase of The South Beach Diet. I’ve previously shared recipes for Indian Spiced Lentils and Lentils Rice and Sausage Another dish I loved was Sausage and Lentils with Fried Sage. Much less authentic than this recipe, but still pretty tasty was Curried Rice and Red Lentils.
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn’t have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count
, which will calculate it for you.
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and Kalyn’s Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!