We have increasingly found ourselves drawn to east Indian/Pakistani type food. I think it may have started with my first trip to Mogul Divaan (a locally owned Pakistani restaurant in Saskatoon). The food is so flavorful and spicy and not like anything I have eaten before. I think in some ways it is a bit of an acquired taste. I recall thinking curry was pretty gross when I was younger. I also remember trying a certain PC Blue Menu frozen dinner a few years ago called Chicken Tikka Masala and thought it was just awful. I don't know exactly what spices were in it, but there was definitely a taste of cinnamon/nutmeg and it was spicy. It was an odd combination to my palate and I didn't try it again until recently, and now I love it!
I have opened my mind a little now to different flavors. After really enjoying making lentil soup last winter and trying some dal at Mogul Divaan we thought we would dive in with both feet (bought a 5lb bag of lentils) and try some recipes. Our first attempt was spicy lentil dal. I started with this recipe as a base and made a few modifications based on what we had on hand.
Spicy Lentil Dal
1 cup green lentils
4 cups chicken broth
5 green onions chopped finely (we would have used a white or yellow onion, but were out!)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced finely
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp tomato paste
We opted to cook our dal in the slow cooker. I rinsed the lentils and added them to the crockpot with the chicken broth. I added the spices and tomato paste to the crockpot and stirred it all up. We sauteed the onion and garlic and ginger, though because did use the crockpot I think that this step was unneccesary. We prepared this the night before and put it in the fridge over night. We then let it cook for 8-9 hours on low. Jay kept an eye on it and took the lid off for 45 minutes or so to let some of the liquid cook off. I think the consistency is up to whoever makes it. If you want it soupier add more liquid, or leave the crockpot lid on. Less liquid, let some cook off. Ours was nice and thick, just the way I hoped it would be! I also found that 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper was the perfect amount for us. We served the dal over rice, and I think to just eat it on it's own it might have been a little too spicy for my tastes, but with rice it was perfect. We will definitely be making that again!