We were recently treated to a lively and entertaining talk by Sumita Roy. Sumita is a native of Kolkata, India, and she talked about the importance of spices in the Indian kitchen. We sampled Dal--a tasty and nutritious dish of pink lentils cooked in a fragrant, spicy broth. For this recipe, we use Pecan Oil to heat the fennel, cumin and other seeds at the start of the dish. This step is an important component in Indian cooking and requires high heat to makes the seeds sputter, split and perfume the entire dish. Ghee (golden clarified butter) is often used in this step; however, Pecan Oil is an excellent choice because of its high smoke point. Even though it's extracted from a dark nut, Pecan Oil is virtually flavorless and colorless.
3 Tbl Kinloch Plantation Pecan Oil, Ghee or other oil that can tolerate high heat
1 lb Masoor Dal (Pink Lentils), soaked overnight
8 cups simmering water
2 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Cayenne (or more to taste)
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbl finely chopped garlic
2 cans diced tomato
Salt, to taste
1 tbl grated ginger
Juice of one lime
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven. Add the seeds and cook in the oil until they sputter and smell very fragrant. Add the onion and garlic. Stir this mixture (masala) until it is softened. Add the turmeric, cumin and cayenne and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine--moving the mixture constantly so as not to brown anything. Add the soaked Dal and six cups of water. Lower the heat and cook the Dal, semi-covered, until tender--about 6 minutes. Add water as it cooks to achieve a thick or thin consistency--your preference. When the Dal is cooked, add a tablespoon of butter and grated ginger. Taste and adjust with salt at this point. Garnish the Dal with chopped cilantro and a little lime juice.