Red Lentils are probably one of the simplest and most versatile creations in my pantry. Their simplicity rests in their ease of creation, and the fact that I do not have to think about anything when I cook them. Red lentils are predictable, and they cook quickly. They melt into the smooth buttery smoothness that I can count on.
Today, was about simplicity and savoring simple moments. I was attending my son’s first grade concert. This was the second first grade concert and possibly the third and fourth concert that I had attended through Deepta and Aadi’s school years. Any of these events predictably entailed the mad dash of technology assessment, the right camera, sometimes carrying both cameras, getting frustrated since the husband had long decided that this was not his domain.
This morning, I decided, no camera!!! Not even the phone camera! I was leaving my phone in the car.
I was going to sit and watch the performance, and that was it. The fact that I had gone through this experience before helped in weighing and deciding on my options. I always think that is one of the advantages the younger child tends to have, is the advantage of relaxed parents.
I walked in to a crowded room. For a change, I did not care where I sat as long as I could see my son Aadi’s smiling face. I gracefully sat in a corner seat. I did not have to be a part of the frenzy of tripods, cameras and the myriad people squeezing to fit my device in. The program began. Seven songs, covering pieces about the ocean, the kids were dressed in shades of green and sea green or blue. A smart way to get the St Patrick’s colors to do double duty.
I watched the energy, and the smiling parents unconstrained by a mechanical viewfinder. I was able to see the emotions and atmosphere of the entire room, rather than viewing this through the filters of a camera lens, peering and adjusting to get the best view of my son. I savored watching my son as a part of the entire environment. I watched the teachers anxiously lip syncing words and gesturing actions to the children. I absorbed the smiling faces of wonder of the parents and the children singing and moving rhythmically to their well practiced songs.
The news this week, seemed to consist of too many stories of constrained potential. Youth cut short, promises broken. I needed this morning to feel renewed. I know, I shall not have any tangible memories of the concert in the form of video clips or pictures. I also know the feeling of simple fulfillment that I found at the concert will permanently find its place in a corner of my heart and stay there for ever.
It will be not unlike this simple dish of lentils, finished to buttery mellow perfection complete with the finish of caramelized onions. This dish never fails to bring the taste of childhood to my table.
Orange Lentils with Caramelized Onions
This is basic comforting homey orange lentils. I love this on a snowyNew Yorknight and love to have this over steaming white rice and mashed potatoes and bitter melons as soon as I visit my parents. It is calming and good for both the body and soul.
To get this recipe to work and complete in the mentioned time, it does need attention to sauté and brown the onions. It is important to start the browning process simultaneously with simmering with the orange lentils.
Cook Time: 25 to 30 minutes
Makes 4 servings
½ cup orange lentils
3 cups of water
¾ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
3 green chilies, slit halfway lengthwise
4 tablespoons oil
1 medium very thinly sliced red onio
Method of Preparation
- Place the lentils and water in a cooking pot. Place the pot on medium heat.
- Add in the turmeric, salt and the green chilies and bring to a simmer.
- Lower the temperature to low to continue cooking until the lentils and nice soft and smooth.
- The liquid should be nice and smooth and fairly thick.
- While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a small wok on medium low heat for about 1 minute until fairly hot.
- Add in the onions and begin cooking until the onions soften. Continue cooking until it begins to turn softly golden and finally crisp and golden. This process takes some time and needs care during the final five minutes, to ensure that the onions brown but do not burn.
- Gently pour the oils and the onions into the lentils and stir well.
- Serve with rice or a bread of your choice.