Monday, November 12, 2012

Spicy Lentil Curry (Sri Lankan Tempered Dhal)

I can eat lentils with rice almost everyday.  It's pure comfort food for this rice and curry girl. This "tempered dhal" is probably my favorite way to eat lentils. It's fragrant, full of flavor and I can eat it just with plain rice and not even look at the rest of the curries.  I use two ingredients in this dish that may not be available to many of you.  If you can get hold of curry leaves and pandan leaves, I really suggest that try it in curry cooking.  I am a curry leaf fanatic... but I think I may love pandan leaves even more.   Pandan leaves are amazingly fragrant.  When they are cooking, the beautiful aroma they give off is so appetizing. You are "tasting" the food even before you get to the table because your mouth is just watering from all the fantastic fragrances coming from the kitchen. If you eat these lentils over rice, you will be happy and so will your belly.

2 cups Masoor Lentils
3-4 cups water
2 pandan leaves
10-12 curry leaves
1 stalk lemongrass bruised
1 (1 inch cinnamon stick)
2 Tbs chopped onion
1 heaping tsp turmeric powder
salt  to taste
1 cup coconut milk

Tempering Oil:
1 medium onion chopped
2 pandan leaves
10-12 curry leaves
1 Tbs black mustard seeds
2-3 cloves grated garlic
1 tsp up to 1 Tbs red chili flakes
1-2 green chilies sliced or whole
2-3 Tbs canola oil

 Wash lentils well with water (check for any stones and pick out).  Add into a large wide mouth pan with water, pandan leaves, curry leaves, onion, cinnamon stick and turmeric powder.  **Do not add salt yet. Boil on medium high heat until water is cooked out and lentils are very soft (20-30 minutes).  If you need more water to get the correct consistency add it as needed.
In a separate frying pan heat 2-3 Tbs of canola oil on medium high heat.  Add onions, pandan leaves, curry leaves, garlic,  green chilies, red dried chili flakes and mustard seeds.  Once frying add a little salt to flavor.  Fry while stirring until onions have started to brown.

Once the lentils are cooked, add some salt to taste and coconut milk.   Then add the tempering ingredients and stir well.  Allow to cook for 3-5 more minutes. Serve hot with rice or Indian flat breads. Enjoy.

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