One of the main obstacles preventing people from beginning a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is misconceptions about obtaining sufficient protein without relying on animal sources. Vegetarians in India (as well as throughout much of the world) have long relied on lentils (or, in Hindi, Dal) to provide essential protein. The Masoor Dal recipe below is from Northern India, and utilizes red lentils in a vibrant curry preparation.
Masoor Dal [Vegan]
- 1/2 lb red lentil
- water, as needed
- 2 tbs vegan butter
- 2 tbs light olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp whole coriander seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp cardamom seed
- 5 inches cinnamon sticks, broken
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp (to taste) salt
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- 7 ounces coconut milk
- Wash the lentils well, sort, and drain. Place lentils in a saucepan, and add just enough salted water to cover the lentils.
- Bring lentils to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer until they are soft. Make sure the water level stays above the lentils.
- While lentils are simmering, grind together coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric in a spice grinder (a coffee grinder works quite well, too).
- Toast the ground spices over low heat in a dry sauté pan, until they are fragrant and warm. Set spices aside.
- Using the same sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until they are soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook another 3-4 minutes. Do not burn the onions or garlic. Add spice mixture and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Once the lentils are soft, add them and their cooking liquid to the onion and spice mixture (you can add more water if this mixture is too thick). Stir the mixture, scraping up any onion and garlic bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in lemon juice, vegan butter, and salt to taste, and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
- Just before serving, add coconut milk and heat thoroughly.
- Garnish with a pinch of red pepper flakes. Delicious with roti, naan bread or coconut rice.