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Bengali Orange Lentils with Cilantro and Tomatoes

Author Notes: These lentils are everyday fare in most Bengali homes. This recipe, adapted from the Bengali Five Spice Chronicles, is my mother’s winter variation. The split (…more) —Rinku Bhattacharya /Spice Chronicles

Serves 4 to 6

  • 3/4cup split orange lentils
  • 1/2teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2medium-sized Roma tomatoes, chopped (or 1 cup of drained chopped tomatoes from a can)
  • 1tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4green Serrano chiles, tops removed, cut in half lengthwise
  • 3tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed
  • 1small onion, diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2teaspoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 1/2teaspoons whole cumin seeds
  • 1 or 2dried red chiles
  • Torn cilantro, for garnish
  1. In a large pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Add in the orange lentils, turmeric, salt, tomatoes, ginger, and green chiles. Cover the lentils, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. For a less spicy dish, add the green chiles about 15 minutes into the cooking process.
  3. Turn of the heat and mix well. You should have a smooth, bright yellow batch of lentils, with just a hint of integrity.
  4. Heat the oil in a separate pot, add in the onions and cook for about 6 to 7 minutes, until wilted soft and flecked golden.
  5. Add the clarified butter and the cumin seeds and the dried red chilies to the same pan (with the oil) and cook for about a minute, until the cumin seeds darken. Pour the seasoned oil and onion mixture over the lentils. Add some of the lentils into the tempering pan to sop up any remaining bit of flavored oil, then stir back into the larger pot. This is the process of creating the seasoning and tempering the lentils. Garnish with torn cilantro.
  6. Serve with steaming hot rice or freshly made flatbreads.

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