Happy 2010!!! ("Twenty Ten"....NOT "Two Thousand Ten"....for those who are still trying to figure out what to call it). So the holiday season of 2009 has officially come to an end..and over the time frame of approximately 2+ months, I've been busy eating, and eating, and eating...oh and eating. I ate A LOT. No exaggeration here. Between work and my birthday and my family and my boyfriend's family, and friends, there was constant consumption of a whole lotta food - eaten with joy and happiness, of course. But between the holiday dinners, lunches, parties, and unsuccessfully trying to eat light when meals were eaten at home (of course due to all the holiday cookies and treats that were shared), it's definitely time to change up the diet a little bit....at least for the time being. That said, week one of 2010 will be all healthy vegetarian. This will be hard because every time I open the freezer, a big tupperware of leftover ginormous juicy meatballs in homemade marinara sauce that had simmered over night (courtesy of my boyfriend's aunt) will be staring straight at me. Also - I need to add "healthy" in the first week of vegetarianism...because frankly, I could define vegetarian as gorging on cheese and chocolate all day.
Kicking off healthy vegetarian week, I decided to go the Indian food route. Daal - lentils - are such a great source of both carbs and protein. They're easy to make and you can make a big pot of it and eat it throughout the week. I LOVE making indian food because the spices add so much flavor, it's ultra satisfying without needing to add a lot of fat. I need to take some time here to caveat though - I didn't follow a recipe of any sort, I just kind of know a general process for making it, and added various spices that I personally like in indian cooking. I used red lentils - masoor daal - and added various spices to it.
Here's the combination of flavors I used starting from the upper left going clockwise: Mustard seeds, Cumin Seeds, Coriander Seeds, Garam Masala, Turmeric, Ginger (didn't have fresh ginger on hand so I used ground), Chili Powder
2 Cups of Masoor Daal
1 tsp Turmeric
6 Cups of water, plus more
4 Tbs Vegetable Oil or Ghee
1 onion, thinly sliced (clarified butter)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ginger (ground...but fresh ginger is preferred: ~1 inch piece, grated)
1 tsp chili powder
2 Tbs salt (more or less to taste)
1 Tbs pepper
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Rinse the lentils well and pick out any little rocks, etc...that might be hiding in the lentils. Cook the lentils w/ water and Turmeric in a big pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally so the lentils don't stick to the bottom and continue to add water to desired consistency.
Meanwhile, use a pestle and mortar to grind up all the spices together. Sautee the onion in a pan with the oil or ghee (make sure not to burn the onions!!!) - add the ground spices and garlic and cook over a medium heat until the the mixture is fragrant. The onions and garlic should be soft and the spices lightly toasted.
Once the lentils are soft and cooked through, add the onion, garlic and spice mixture into the pot and stir. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until all the flavors are blended together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Before serving, stir in the cilantro. Serve over rice or with naan.