Whatever anyone is doing, I am soaking lentils—so much foresight I have...Anyway, while I try not to brag, I will say I have often been dubbed an "honorary Indian" as I know a lot more about Indian culture than most and I cook Indian all the time. Heck, I freakin' have asafoetida in my kitchen cabinet so I am way above, "I bought curry powder at the Safeway level."
Long Squash And Lentils/Dal/Dahl
2. In a pan, heat about a T of high-smoking point oil such as vegetable oil or grape seed oil.
3. Add about a T of whole cumin seeds and whole mustard seeds. The oil will allow them to "open up/pop" and release their flavor.
4. Add a whole lot of red onions, sliced in ribbons. I think they look prettier this way and you are also aiming to let them caramelize as much as possible.
5. Add an entire finely chopped tomato and the long squash [pictured above] and continue cooking all of this. You may wish to put a lid on it and cook it on a low flame.
6. Chop a lot of fresh cilantro finely and add it to the squash mixture once it has cooled off so it doesn't cook the cilantro and make it wilt completely.
7. Chop some ginger and garlic finely [about 1 inch piece of ginger and 3 cloves of garlic] and saute them in a little oil for them to release their flavor. Add that to the base of the pot you will be using to cook your dal in.
8. In the mean time, start getting the dal ready. Put the soaked dal in a pot with water. Add turmeric and red chili powder or fresh green chilis in the pot. Cook the dal, scooping off any foam that forms as it boils.
9. If using a pressure cooker, the dal takes about 5-10 minutes. If not, takes about 20-30 mins. on a medium heat. Add some cumin powder, corriander powder, and a little garam masala at the end. Also prepare either tamarind concentrate [soak whole tamarind in hot water and then run through a sieve] or just lime juice or lemon juice and add it to the cooked dal towards the very end [do not overcook with those things in there].
10. Finally mix the squash in with the dal.
11. Perfect--ever since the day of Jacques Pepin cooking cucumbers, people realized that putting watery vegetables in with hot things does not lead to boiled cucumber [blech!] but instead adds a refreshing element to seemingly heavy dishes such as legume soups.
I know the recipe sounds a tad confusing and sounds like it requires 10 bajillion things, but common, don't kid yourself and think that just because you put curry powder in something, you are cooking Indian. The nice things about all those spices is that they are the base for most Indian cooking so once you have them, you will keep using them and you will be cooking authentic Indian and not some white-washed, half-baked nonsense :) [yes, I said it!].
Anyway, there will be a lot more Indian coming to the blog so keep an eye out.