Red lentils, you say? Why is it green? Why? It’s a funny thing about red lentils. They’re such a pretty salmon color before you cook them, but they turn yellowish after. Still pretty, though, I think! And this is green because it has zucchini and spinach and cilantro. I like to make a red lentil dal that you cook for a very long time, until it separates into cooked lentils, and a delicate, flavorful broth. This isn’t like that! It’s more substantial and thick. It reminded me of oatmeal, a bit, as I was making it. The ground cashews add a sweet nutty creaminess that I find quite pleasant. This would be nice with basmati rice and naan or paratha, but we ate it with grit cakes, which was very good, too!
Here’s a song which is used to wonderful effect in the film, Eena Meena Deeka. The video is wonderful, too!
2 T olive oil
1 large shallot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic – minced
1 zucchini, cut into 4 lengthwise, and then into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup red lentils
1 t basil
1 t sesame seeds (I used black)
1 t mustard seeds (I used black)
1/3 cup cashews
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t. each coriander, tumeric, and cardamom
cayenne to taste
1 or 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped finely
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
juice of half a lemon
2 T butter (omit if you’re vegan!)
In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallot, mustard seeds, sesame seeds and basil. Stir and cook till the shallot starts to brown, and the mustard seeds are sizzly/pop-y. Add the garlic, red lentils, and the zucchini, stir and cook till everything starts to brown.
Meanwhile, combine the cashews with about 1/2 cup of water in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Add this to the veggies, along with all of the spices. Stir and cook. Add about 2 more cups of water. Stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, till the lentils are thickened and soft. Add more water if you like it brothier. Stir in the spinach and the cilantro, and cook until the spinach is wilted.
Add salt, pepper, lemon juice and butter.