Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dal with Tomato and Cream

Cheap Eat Challenge: Watch as our family of 6 tries to eat on $6/day.

I've had a good streak of people eating foods they claim not to like (sometimes even blissfully).

Dal is an Indian dish whose star ingredient is lentils (or split peas or other dried beans). Lentils are not something my family generally goes quacky for, as they lack the quality of being chocolate. I, however, enjoy dal. And it is really cheap. I make it with naan and I put the peanut butter on the table, so if people cannot bear the lentils, they can slather their bread in a different sort of legume.

I made this dal on Saturday. It was wickedly good. It was, in fact, so wickedly good that I ventured to suggest to Kip that he ought to give it a try. (Lentils are not a place I generally venture with Kip.) And then Kip shocked me by taking some. This is just the type of craziness that keeps a marriage fresh.

He ate it and then he said, "The flavor's good, but I don't like lentils." And then he took some more. Again, it was not a large portion. But it was a second portion. This, it must be noted, was done while the kids were outside playing, meaning there was no pretext even of doing it for good example's sake.  

Perhaps, just to keep my life interesting, he will even stop eating foods he formerly claimed to like. This, I assure you, will keep our marriage exceedingly fresh.

Dal with Tomato and Cream
adapted from Steamy Kitchen
Serves 4
Cook time: 1 hour
Cost: $1.95
(lentils: .50, tomatoes: .75, butter: .30, cream: .35, other stuff: .05)

1 C dry lentils
1 14-oz can diced or crushed tomatoes (I used home-canned)
1 Tbsp minced garlic (3-4 cloves)
1/2 tsp ground ginger (you could also use 1/2-1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 C water
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp pepper
salt to taste
1/3 C heavy cream
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro (didn't have, so skipped. Would have been lovely--for my picture and my palate)

Note for the calorie/fat conscious: You can skip the cream, but not the butter. (Or possibly visa versa.) I tasted it before adding the cream and it was seriously already to die for. Yes, the cream added even more amazingness if such a thing could be, but you could get away without using it. The butter, however, added a smooth  flavorfulness that I don't think you should live without.

Check lentils for stones (I've never found one, but I don't want to either). Put lentils in large sauce pan and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Drain water and return lentils to the pot. You can mash some of them against the side if you will.

Add crushed tomatoes (I pureed my home-canned ones and left the juices in, so it was pretty watery). Add ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, water, butter, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 hour until dal is thick with most of the fluid cooked out. Check the pot periodically and if your water cooks out before it's done, just add more. Take off heat and stir in cream. Garnish with cilantro if desired.


Did I mention that this stuff was wickedly good? Here's my after-bowl. I mean, who needs a dishwasher. Just so you know, I've been salivating throughout the writing of this post (I'm not exaggerating or joking about that either). Must. Have. More. Dal. Perhaps I'll try a crockpot version tomorrow morning so I can indulge at lunch.

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