Undoing ‘over-doing’ with: Dal (lentils)


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I recently came to the realization that I’m an over-doer.

The past month, I’ve been battling a hamstring injury that resulted from “over-doing” it. After a few lazy weeks, I felt inspired to get a jump-start on my marathon training with a 12-mile hilly run (after doing a 9-mile run two days earlier). Followed by a 4-mile walk on the waterfront, and dancing the night away in strappy heels.

On Christmas Eve, I hosted a “small” brunch for 13 friends. While people were still mingling over mimosas, I was in the kitchen whipping up coffee cake for my boyfriend’s family–one of six baked goods I planned to bring them for Christmas dessert. Why six things, not one or two? I have no idea.

And last year, we celebrated Valentine’s Day three times, for three entire days.

Three.

…Birthdays, anniversaries and promotions are celebrated the same way.

So I’ve decided to simplify things–starting with this simple lentil dish, dal. It’s so simple, it only has 3 letters (sometimes 4, daal). It’s as simple as simple can get: lentils, water, onion and spices.

It’s not exactly an authentic Indian recipe, but I’ve adapted this recipe from how my Persian boyfriend and his mom prepare it. You can serve it as a side dish, or eat it as a vegetarian main dish over brown rice with a side of roasted veggies of your choice.

This is as simple as it will get for me…my mom’s 50th birthday party is this weekend, 50 people are coming, and I will be over-doing it. So at least for today…I can just breathe. Ahhhhhhh.

Dal

Serves about 8 as a side dish, 4 as a main dish

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2 tsp. cooking oil

1 cup imported red lentils

1 cup yellow split peas (optional, add 1 more cup of lentils if you omit these)

6 cups water

1 large onion, diced and/or chopped (I like to do half diced, half chopped in bigger chunks or strips)

2-3 T turmeric

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

*Note* If you don’t want to buy a bunch of different spices, you can buy curry powder from the grocery store and omit all the other spices, EXCEPT the turmeric. Use about 1 to 2 T.

Use imported red lentils. I get these from my local middle eastern grocer. You might also be able to find them at a regular grocery store, either in the bulk aisle or the ethnic foods aisle. They’re smaller and flatter than regular lentils, and they become creamy when cooked. I also like to use yellow split peas for texture, but you don’t have to. Just add an extra cup of red lentils if you choose to skip the split peas.

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Dice or chop your onion. I failed to grocery shop so I ended up having to use half of a red onion and half of a yellow onion. Doesn’t really make a difference. I like to dice half my onion, and chop the other half in bigger chunks. Just adds texture, but it’s ultimately up to you!

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Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add onions. Saute until slightly softened. Add spices to onion, mixing to coat onions with the spices, and saute another minute.

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Add lentils and split peas to the onion and spices, and mix well.

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Add about 3 to 4 cups of water to the pot. Cover and let simmer about 10 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on the pot because the lentils will soak up the water, and the lentils could burn to the bottom of the pot (You may have to add more or less water than the 6 cups this recipe calls for, depending on how quickly your lentils soak up the water. Turn down heat if necessary.). Add remaining 2 cups of water and simmer another 15-20 minutes on low to medium-low heat.

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The lentils should look thick and creamy like this when it’s done. The split peas take longer to cook than the lentils, so taste one of the split peas to check if it’s done. It should be soft! You can always add more water if it seems too thick, or if the lentils seem to be sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add salt and pepper to your taste.

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Serve over brown rice with roasted veggies to make it a meal! Or, serve as a side dish. I ate it with lemon saffron chicken that Novin made…recipe to come, later!

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Enjoy!

RECIPE

Dal

2 tsp. cooking oil

1 cup imported red lentils

1 cup yellow split peas (optional, add 1 more cup of lentils if you omit these)

6 cups water

1 large onion, diced and/or chopped (I like to do half diced, half chopped in bigger chunks or strips)

2-3 T turmeric

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

*Note* If you don’t want to buy a bunch of different spices, you can buy curry powder from the grocery store and omit all the other spices, EXCEPT the turmeric. Use about 1 to 2 T.

Use imported red lentils. I get these from my local middle eastern grocer. You might also be able to find them at a regular grocery store, either in the bulk aisle or the ethnic foods aisle. They’re smaller and flatter than regular lentils, and they become creamy when cooked. I also like to use yellow split peas for texture, but you don’t have to. Just add an extra cup of red lentils if you choose to skip the split peas.

Dice or chop your onion. I failed to grocery shop so I ended up having to use half of a red onion and half of a yellow onion. Doesn’t really make a difference. I like to dice half my onion, and chop the other half in bigger chunks. Just adds texture, but it’s ultimately up to you!

Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add onions. Saute until slightly softened. Add spices to onion, mixing to coat onions with the spices, and saute another minute.

Add lentils and split peas to the onion and spices, and mix well.

Add about 3 to 4 cups of water to the pot. Cover and let simmer about 10 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on the pot because the lentils will soak up the water, and the lentils could burn to the bottom of the pot (You may have to add more or less water than the 6 cups this recipe calls for, depending on how quickly your lentils soak up the water. Turn down heat if necessary.). Add remaining 2 cups of water and simmer another 15-20 minutes on low to medium-low heat.

The lentils should look thick and creamy like this when it’s done. The split peas take longer to cook than the lentils, so taste one of the split peas to check if it’s done. It should be soft! You can always add more water if it seems too thick, or if the lentils seem to be sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add salt and pepper to your taste.

Serve over brown rice with roasted veggies to make it a meal! Or, serve as a side dish. I ate it with lemon saffron chicken that Novin made…recipe to come, later!

Black Bean and Corn Salad (Pair with Lazy Bum’s Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas)


1/2 medium onion, very finely chopped

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 chopped tomatoes

1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

2 limes

drizzle olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Your favorite hot sauce, optional

Mix together onion, beans, tomatoes, corn and cilantro. Squeeze juice of two limes over salad. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add some of your favorite hot sauce if you like a little kick. Serve with Lazy Bum’s Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas.

“Fire-butt Spanish Rice”…don’t ask, just give it a try ;)


PJ’s housewarming party…continued…with guest chef BJ for this side dish.

You might not want to ask why I titled this recipe “Fire-butt Spanish Rice.” The name should say it all.

BJ likes to cook food with a lot of heat. She puts Tabasco sauce on EVERYTHING, to the point where you feel offended. Was the food I just cooked so bad that you had to mask the taste by burning your tastebuds off, just to get the food down your throat, BJ? OK well maybe I’m over dramatizing.

I like this recipe as-is, with a little pain, but it will taste just as good if you cut down on the hot stuff. For this recipe BJ spared the Tabasco and used ghost chile sauce…the hottest pepper in the world. The ingredient amount below will feed a large group of people as a side dish (we fed 10-15 with some leftover). Just scale down ingredients for a smaller portion. This also works well as a main dish.

Ingredients

4 cups cooked rice

olive oil, just enough to coat the bottom of your pot or pan

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 bushel cilantro, roughly chopped

15 oz. can tomato sauce

1 cup frozen corn kernels

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp. cumin

about a teaspoon-ish or more of chili powder

about a teaspoon-ish or more of cayenne pepper

A few glugs of hot taco sauce (about 2-3 T to be safe)

About half a tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce (BJ used Holy Jolokia ghost chile sauce, which can be purchased on amazon.com)

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and saute a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add cooked rice and mix well. Add tomato sauce and taco sauce and mix well into rice.

The little childrens like to help.

Aww sowwy Fawkes, this is too spicy for the puppy..

Add black beans, corn and spices. The last few minutes of cooking add cilantro. Enjoy! If you still don’t know why it’s called “Fire-butt Spanish Rice,” well…you will tomorrow. 🙂

Baked Jalapeno Falafel


Last night I was just not in the mood to make dinner. At all. The last week I’ve been straining to find motivation…for basically everything. Work, cleaning, reading, exercising, cooking…I think I’ve been using up my last drops of motivation for marathon training, and my body is saying it needs a break.  But with a spendy vacation coming up, and less than 16 days until the Portland Marathon, I thought it would be a healthier, more economical option to just suck it up and have a home-cooked meal. It took every ounce of my being to get this dinner on the table-er–couch, but I did it. And surprise, surprise, I’m glad I did, because this meal was packed with protein and fiber, and just eating it gave me a little more energy…and motivation to wash the dishes afterward.

Ingredients

1 can garbanzo beans

1 egg

1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1 medium onion

2 cloves garlic

1 small jalapeno (or 2 or 3 if you really want some heat)

1 T lemon juice

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp-1 tsp salt, to your taste

pepper, to taste

cayenne, to taste

1 tsp baking powder

drizzle of olive oil (1 to 2 tsp)

1/2 cup fresh parsley

Yes, the mixture will look a little green.

In a bowl, mash beans with a potato masher or fork.

In a blender or food processor, puree onion, jalapeno, garlic, parsley and lemon juice. Add to mashed beans and mix well.

In a small bowl, beat together (with a fork) spices, baking powder, egg and olive oil. Add to bean mixture and mix well. Add bread crumbs and mix. The mixture should hold together well to form patties. Form into 2- or 3″ patties.

It sure doesn't LOOK like falafel, but it is a whole lot healthier and packed with flavor.

This falafel will not be the same as in Mediterranean restaurants because it is not deep fried. It will have a soft texture. To make it healthier, I pan fry falafel over medium-high heat (with just non-stick spray or a little Smart Balance) on each side until browned. Then bake for about 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Best served with hummus or tzatziki and pita, on the couch in PJ’s watching Modern Family. Enjoy!