Month of September: “660 Curries” Recipe: Whole Black Lentils with Ginger, Garlic and Butter

“I seemed to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times, in life after life, in age after age, forever.” Rabindranath Tagore

This curry is called makhani dal. I have eaten chicken makhani in Indian restaurants many times but never one with legumes. In “660 Curries” there are amazingly over 130 legume curries alone. Legumes are basically seeds and they are the protein lifeline to the vegetarian diet since 4500 BC!! Our author tells us that this black lentil is a Punjabi classic and a “must” at every special occasion. It’s easy to make and very filling with the fragrant garam masala (from previous post) and rich cream. I would suggest eating it on a cool day when you are very hungry. This idea of a cool day conjures up an unforgettable memory of a special occasion in my life on an autumn day when Abby and her daughter Rita unexpectedly drove all night from Wisconsin to New York for my wedding. I was marrying Andy, a man who, decades earlier I had met shortly before meeting Abby. I was also marrying, I might add, the father of my only child Sean, who was then 27. Abby made us a magical trellis of foraged bittersweet adorned with twinkle lights where underneath we cried our tears of true forgiveness and love. She crafted my bouquet of salmon roses and pale green hydrangea that I still have to this day, all dry and withered. What also made this day so extraordinary is that Andy and I were getting back together after decades apart, after marrying and divorcing our first spouses, and Abby and I were re-connecting after nine years of silence. It was a reincarnation of forms and it felt like we all touched on something spiritual, something karmic, something eternal. I can honestly say it was the happiest day of my life.

Ingredients:1 cup whole black lentils, 1/4 cup ginger paste (I chopped fresh ginger into a paste), 2 tablespoons garlic paste ( I chopped garlic into a paste), 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup cream, 1.5 teaspoons sea salt, 1 teaspoon Punjabi garam masala (from earlier post),1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 2 to 3 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro

1.Place lentils in a large saucepan and rinse multiple times until water runs clear. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam on top. Add the garlic and ginger paste and stir. Cook on low until tender, about 15-30 minutes. Watch to make sure water does not evaporate completely. Add a little more water if needed.

2. Blend the yogurt, cream, garam masala, salt and cayenne in a blender jar. Sauce will have brown and red specks.

3. When lentils are tender and most of the water is cooked off, add butter and stir until melted. Add the yogurt sauce to the lentils and mix. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with rice and or flabreads.

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