I am extremely comfortable with Southwestern/Mexican flavors. Which is not to say that I know everything there is to know about Southwestern and Mexican cuisines, because I do not, not by a long shot. But I make soups, tortilla casseroles, hashes, and just basically “invent” them on the fly.
Today, while contemplating our choices for lunch at about 10 am (the only relevance being I had time to fiddle–a playdate was canceled at the last minute), I thought to myself surely I have learned enough about Indian flavors that I could invent an Indian potato hash for our lunch. And I was right!
The great thing about one pot dishes like those discussed above is that they can be continually tweaked, twiddled and improved upon. So the first thing you should know is that if I were to make this dish again there are some things I might change. For example, I might use green lentils, instead of red, for a less gloppy hash. The second thing you should know is that whether or not I would change it, you should if it suits you. The recipe is a blueprint, nothing more and nothing less. The last thing you should know is that potential future changes aside, this was mighty tasty.
1/2 cup lentils of choice
2 cups water (1/2 cup to 2 cups was the ratio for red lentils–double check if using another type of lentil)
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 ground coriander
1/2 t cayenne or paprika pepper
salt to taste
1 T ghee (plus more as needed)
1 T vegetable oil (plus more as needed)
2 t brown or black mustard seeds
2 t cumin seeds
1 t nigella seeds (kalonji)
3 medium/large onions, thinly sliced
several pinches of salt
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 T grated ginger
1/2 t turmeric
1 T ground cumin
1 T ground coriander
1 t cayenne or paprika pepper
8-10 medium potatoes, boiled until barely tender, cooled, and sliced into bite sized chunks
13 oz frozen peas (I used 1 bag plus a second partial bag–1 10 oz bagis probably enough but I really love peas)
1-2 t garam masala, to taste
salt to taste
plain Greek yogurt for serving
Bring the lentils and water to boil in a small pot. Set aside to simmer until tender (or even mushy, in the case of red lentils–red lentils will take about 15 minutes). Add the spices and a pinch of salt. Stir and set aside.
Heat the ghee and oil in a large skillet over high heat. Keep the ghee and/or oil handy in case you decide the pan needs more later. When the fats are shimmering hot, add the onions with a pinch of salt. Fry on high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Keep some water nearby in case you walk away and the onions start to burn–the water will quickly cook off and no harm will be done. Add another pinch of salt after about 7 minutes and keep frying. You want the onions to become dark golden brown, but not burnt or black. This can take up to 25 minutes and requires frequent stirring.
When you think the onions are about right, turn the heat down to medium high and add the garlic and ginger. Fry, stirring, for 2 minutes, then reduce the heat yet again to medium and add the spices (except the garam masala). After another minute, turn the heat back to medium high and add the potatoes. Toss the potatoes with the onion spice mixture until they are even;ly coated and cooked through. Add the lentils and toss again. Add the peas and toss. Add the garam masala and toss, tasting for salt and/or more garam masala. Serve with yogurt.