Masoor Dal with Kale

Temperatures in New York City soared above 70 today, inducing a collective giddiness. Unfortunately, save for a quick dash outside to pick up lunch and some specialty lightbulbs (good lighting being a bit of an obsession for me), I spent the day at my desk. It is the end of a very long week. By the time 6:00 rolled around, it was all I could do to swing by the health food store for some red lentils and cilantro before heading home. I was craving something spicy that would make use of the kale I picked up last weekend at the Union Square Greenmarket. (It’s tough to use up your vegetables when you get home after 10:00 each night.)

Masoor Dal with Kale

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 knob ginger (about the size of the last joint of your thumb)
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (substitute coconut oil if you’re going for a vegan dish)
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole coriander, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • zest of 1 small lime
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
  • salt
  1. Add your lentils, ginger, turmeric and four cups of water to a medium-sized heavy bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a very low simmer and place lid on top, leaving open a crack. If you suddenly realize that you need beer, now is the time. Your lentils need to simmer for an hour-plus, so walk those extra five blocks to the good place–and feel free to sample. A growler of Great South Bay Brewery‘s Misfit Toy Black IPA? Don’t mind if I do.
  2. When you get home (about 30 minutes later), give the lentils a stir. (They will have turned to mush; do not be alarmed). By the time you put on some music and pour yourself a beer, it should be time to start the rice. Basmati would be ideal, but I went with Thai Jasmine because that’s what I had on hand. You can follow the instructions on the package, but I’d recommend sautéing the rice in half a tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil for a couple of minutes before adding your water. A good pinch of salt is also key.
  3. Bring a tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil up to medium heat in a small skillet. Add the cumin, coriander and cayenne and cook stirring continuously until the spices are nice and toasty but not burnt (2-3 minutes). Add the onions and the garlic and cook stirring frequently until your onions are crisp and brown at the edges. 
  4. Add the onion and spice mixture to your lentils along with the kale and a couple of healthy pinches of salt and cook for 10 minutes or more, depending on how toothsome your greens are. Taste and adjust your seasoning with additional salt and/or cayenne as needed. Add the lime zest and cilantro off the heat.
  5. Damn, that was easy. But wait, you ask, wouldn’t it be a good idea to remove the giant hunk of ginger before you bite into it? Yes, yes it would.

Masoor Dal with Kale

This dish is best consumed with a second beer, in your underwear, trusty cat by your side, while watching 8 Mile (which you’ve been meaning to see for years).

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