Despite how it looks on the blog, we usually just eat meat a few times per week. I usually don’t post things in real time, and the meat dishes from the past few weeks have just been more interesting. I do want to restore some balance, though, to keep the food accessible to as many people as possible.
“Caravan” is one of the spice blends I made for last month’s Craving Mad 50 Giveaway, and so far this is my favorite way to use it. It’s flavor is hard to describe, but the mix of fenugreek seeds, and dried herbs gives a brand new flavor to one of my staple foods.
I’ve done a few different things with black lentils– Dal Makhani, lentil burgers, and even braised with stock and red wine– but this simple variation could definitely stand up to them all.
Black Lentils need to soak for a few hours before you cook them, otherwise they won’t ever get soft. I’ll usually leave them in water while I’m at work, and they are ready to go when I get back. Keep an eye out for lentils that don’t swell or discolor– there are always a few that stay rock hard no matter how long they cook. The only thing worse than biting into an unexpected hard lentil is accidentally biting a cardamom pod. You won’t forget it.
Similarly, if you’re cooking Basmati rice, you should soak it before you cook it. It seems unnecessary, but it’s the best way to recreate the texture you get in restaurants. You can transform it even more by adding butter, salt, cumin seeds, and turmeric to the water.
4 Cups Urad Dal (Black Lentils), soaked
4 Cups Basmati or Jasmine Rice
2 Cups Tomato puree
1/2 Onion, diced
4 Cloves of Garlic, sliced thinly
1 Lime, juiced
1/2 Cup Cilantro, chopped
1 Tbs Caravan Blend*
1 Tbs Ginger, minced
1 Tbs Chili Flakes
2 Tbs Cumin Seeds
2 Tbs Turmeric
1 Tbs Paprika
1 Tbs Coriander
1 Tsp Dried Mint
1 Tsp Chili Powder
2 Cardamom Pods
- Place two large pots on medium heat. In the first pot, add vegetable oil, cumin seeds, a cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom, and a bay leaf, and stir until the seeds begin to pop. In the second pot, add cumin seeds, salt, and butter.
- Transfer the soaked rice to the first pot, then cover with roughly an inch of water. Stir in turmeric, and cover the pot until the rice is cooked.
- Sautee sliced, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and chilies in the second pot, then add lentils with half of the water. Season with your desired spices.
- Simmer until you can crush a lentil easily between your thumb, and finger, then add coconut milk, and lime juice. Taste for seasoning, and add chopped cilantro.
- Plate, and serve.