We were all seated at the dinner table (stools have not arrived yet–I plan to eat at the island when it is just us) and eating when I realized I had never photographed any of the food.
It’s too bad too, because this dish is vibrant with red and yellow. It is also very tasty. So excuse the pictures please while I tell you all about it. Also, the dish in the background was an Indian potato and spinach dish I made to accompany the lentils with caramelized onions, but aside from the onions it was not the stunner that this dish was so I am not bothering with it.
This dish is for the savory sweet tooths among us. You know who you are. You like fruit sauces with your pork and duck, Sweet & Sour pork was one of the first Chinese dishes you ever liked, and tamarind chutney, Chinese duck sauce and Thai Garlic Sweet Hot Dipping Sauce are among your favorite condiments. You can add this sweet and hot lentil curry to your repertoire–it is easy and the balance between the sweet and the hot is perfect (more so if you don’t have kids of course). The curry leaves add their own bitter aroma over the whole thing. Yum.
(Apparently this balance between sweet and hot is typical of the region the dish comes from, Gujarat.)
I am submitting this legume curry to My Legume Love Affair, hosted this month by Srivalli of Cooking For All Seasons. Be sure to check out the round up in February!
Mug Chana Nu Dal (Sweet Split Green Lentils & Yellow Peas)
Adapted from 660 Curries, Raghavan Iyer
1/2 cup skinned split green lentils (moong dal–they will be yellow)
1/4 cup split yellow peas (chana dal)
2 T ghee
1 t black/brown mustard seeds
2 t cumin seeds
1 t cayenne powder (I used 1/2 t)
1/2 t ground asafetida
1/2 t turmeric
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (I squeezed whole tomatoes)
1/4 cup crumbled or chopped jaggery (substitute: dark brown sugar, which I used, or piloncillo)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
10-15 medium-large fresh or frozen curry leaves (not dried)
Clean the lentils and split peas as you would rice, going through several changes of water. Then add the drained legumes to 3 cups of water in a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Skim and foam that rises to the surface from the lentils. Cover and let simmer for 35-40 minutes, until the lentils are quite soft and the split peas are tender but still holding their shape.
While the legumes are cooking, heat the ghee in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cover to let pop. When they have finished popping, removed the skillet from the heat and add the cumin seeds, cayenne, asafetida and turmeric. The spices will instantly sizzle and become fragrant but should not burn while off of the heat. Immediately add the tomatoes, cilantro, curry leaves and jaggery. Return the skillet to medium high heat and simmer, uncovered (you may need to lower the heat), stirring occasionally, until the ghee starts to separate on the surface, about 5 minutes. Set the sauce aside until the legumes are cooked.
When the legumes are ready, coarsely mash some of them to thicken the base for the curry. Stir the sauce in and salt to taste. Return the pan to medium heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until the seasoning has permeated the curry.