Daal (lentils), potatoes, and rice are very common ingredients in a Bengali kitchen. This recipe is so popular, you could compare it to mac and cheese. At home, our Hindu family did not eat meat on Thursdays, so these lentils and potatoes became a meal with rice and flatbread. My mother added vegetables to the daal to make it healthier. Fried potatoes with poppy seeds (here oven-fried) is the classic accompaniment to daal. Before you begin, dry roast the yellow lentils in a skillet with one drop of oil — which helps them toast better — then rinse them.
|3||medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced|
|1||tablespoon vegetable oil|
|1||teaspoon poppy seeds|
|Salt, to taste|
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1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a 12-inch baking dish.
2. In the dish, combine the potatoes, oil, poppy seeds, turmeric, and salt. Stir well. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until they are starting to brown at the edges.
|1½||cups yellow lentils|
|Vegetable oil (for sprinkling)|
|1||jalapano or other fresh green chile|
|2||tablespoons vegetable oil|
|½||cauliflower head, cut into florets|
|Salt, to taste|
|¼||cup frozen peas|
|1||whole dried red chile|
|1||piece (1½ inches) cinnamon stick|
|3||whole green cardamom pods, lightly smashed|
|1||teaspoon cumin seed|
|1||piece (1½ inches) fresh ginger, grated|
|¼||cup chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)|
1. In a bowl, toss the lentils with a single drop of vegetable oil. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the lentils, and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the lentils are slightly brown at the edges. Tip them into a strainer; rinse well.
2. Transfer the lentils to a soup pot. Add the water, turmeric, fresh chile, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes. The lentils will not be cooked through.
3. Meanwhile, wipe out the skillet and set it over medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and when it is hot, add the cauliflower and salt. Cover the pan and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the cauliflower is not quite tender.
4. Add the cauliflower to the lentils with the carrots and peas. Cover the pan and continue simmering for 10 minutes or until the lentils and cauliflower are tender.
5. Rinse and dry the skillet. Set it over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and when it is hot, add the red chile, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and cumin seed. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they sizzle. Add the grated ginger and cook for 3 to minutes, or until it is no longer raw. Tip the spices into the lentil mixture and stir well. Continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the spices are blended. Sprinkle with cilantro. Dolphia Nandi