We have heard of people describing food in poetic and comforting terms, and the closest thing that evokes poetic feelings for me is well made red lentils or mushoorir dal. We Bengalis can rapsodize about these buttery smooth lentils every day of our lives. Well, today’s variation of red lentils goes beyond poetry, this variation is an accomplice in my efforts to get my mother to enjoy broccoli.
Chances are if my husband was reading this post, he would like to highlight that the broccoli, I speak of is not just any old florets of broccoli, they are like almost anything else that I cook in summer, tender stem pieces of green beauteousness, that he has grown. This year, I have truly been thrilled to see how enthusiastically, mom has been relishing my crazy forays in the kitchen. However, I am a believer to get someone to like something, we need to start traditional.
To be fair to mom, she is a little confused. Chances are she first about broccoli when President Bush was around, and we all know what his views on the broccoli are. Well, times they are a changing. We have a different captain of the ship today, and this is what President Obama feels. Gosh! who knew that there was a correlation between broccoli and politics! Despite, being a politically obsessed family, I knew that it would take more than just presidential endorsement to have mom give a nod to the broccoli, it would take the comforting and quintessential red lentils and then some.
Well, jokes aside, all things considered I paired the broccoli in a simple stew of red lentils. A tender delicate comforting bowl of well seasoned goodness. The broccoli cooked along side the red lentils was cooked in a typical no fuss Bengali manner, none of the fuss, associated with green and blanching or icing the vegetables. It was simmered till tender soft in pools of the thick and buttery soft red lentils laced with gentle kisses of spices. I finished this off, with the traditional tempering of golden crisp onions. Growing up in our house, not all lentils got the caramelized onion
finish, this was left for the comforting and soothing lentils.
Buttery red lentils, soft and flavorful broccoli and delicate bits of caramelized red onion. What do you expect a mother to do? A few bites later she declared, “onekta kopir moto (a lot like cauliflower)”, considering that the mild mannered cauliflower was a family favorite, looked like we had a winner!
It has been a while since I participated in one of the events that I liked a lot, MLLA, or my legume love affair an event started by Susan to celebrate lentils, that is currently with Lisa and is hosted this month by Aparna at My Diverse Kitchen.
A comforting creation with red lentils garden fresh tender broccoli seasoned with hints of ginger, cumin and caramelized onions.
- ¾ cup split red lentils
- 2 cups of water or 3 if using the stove top
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ¾ teaspoon red cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 11/2 teaspoons powdered cumin
- ½ pound of tender broccoli florettes
- 1 small red onion
- 2 to 3 tablespoons oil
- 2 green chillies, slit
- 1 lime, halved
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives (optional)
- Place the lentils in the pressure cooker or the cooking pot add in the water, turmeric, salt, ginger and cumin and cook under pressure for 4 to 5 minutes, or simmer the lentils until soft and smooth. This takes about 25 minutes and needs to be stirred occasionally.
- While this is cooking cut the broccoli into small pieces, tender stems can be chopped into smaller pieces along with the florets.
- Add to the lentils and simmer for another 7 minutes, until the broccoli is tender crisp.
- While the broccoli is cooking, peel the onion and cut into a fine dice.
- Heat the oil and add the onion and cook the onion on medium high heat until the onion is nice and golden, this will take about 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add in the green chillies and mix this into the lentils and simmer for another 2 minutes.
- Squeeze in the lime juice and sprinkle with the chives if using.
If not using a pressure cooker, this will take much longer.