legumes are a girl’s best friend

January 7, 2010

[image by andrew scrivani for the new york times]

This girl, at least. Lentils and beans have become a staple in my cooking this autumn and winter. Dal (made with lentils and other legumes) is a big part of that. Why? Partly for the reason Mark Bittman points out in The Minimalist this week: it’s quick and simple to make and yet rich in flavour and complexity. Winner.

I was so pleased to see his recent colomn, featuring five new dal recipes (how amazing does Mung Bean Dal with Apples and Coconut Tarka sound?) because I’ve really been on the look out for some variations on the staples in his How to Cook Everything book.

One such staple is the Lentil Soup with Sausage pictured below. I made a gigantic batch a few weeks back and froze about ten servings – happy days at lunch!

One thing that’s important to remember when making dal, as Bittman points out, is that adding too much to a dal can be overkill. While boosting its flavour and density with something like apples and coconut tarka, or even meat can take the dal to new and dizzying heights of deliciousness, this is not a cassoulet or a stew, so add with caution and thought.How about trying one of these?
Everyday Yellow Dal from smitten kitchen.

This is an awesome way to start out if you’ve never made dal or feel overwhelmed by some of the ingredients listed in dal recipes – simple and delicious. The sides recommended also sound rocking.

Dal Makhani, Oberoi Style from A Life (Time) of Cooking.

This recipe uses black lentils, red kidney beans and garbanzos and sounds amazing!

Parippu Usili/ Usli from Edible Garden.

This recipe uses french beans to add some real substance to the dal.

What are your thoughts on dal? Ever tried making it? Intrigued? Put off by some of the ingredients? I’d love to know!

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