Currently cooking from Cook This Now by Melissa Clark
I have been trying to write this blog post for a week now. I wanted to find a way to make this dish sound sexy and appealing, but I’ve come to the conclusion that lentils are neither sexy nor appealing. They are filling, nutritious and, in this case, quite delicious. Solid, but not sexy.
You start out by softening scallions, garlic and curry powder in butter until the scallions have softened. Next you stir in tomato paste and lentils and cook for a few more minutes before adding fresh (or, in my case, diced, canned) tomatoes, salt and enough water to cover everything. This mixture simmers for about 40 minutes until the lentils are tender. The dish is served with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and a little trick that Clark just barely mentions in the headnotes. As the lentils are simmering, you take flaked, unsweetened coconut, salt and mustard seeds and toast them on the stovetop. This sweet, salty, crunchy mixture gets sprinkled over the lentils right before serving.
If you maneuver your spoon just right, you get a mouthful of the tender-but-toothsome spicy lentils with a little bit of the cooling yogurt and a salty crunch from the topping. Put all that together and you get sexy lentils.
If you can, try to use the green lentils, rather than the brown or the red ones. The red ones will turn into mush, and the brown ones will break down too much. The green lentils stay just a little bit firm and separate, almost beady. And don’t leave out the topping. This really was the star of the recipe, and I found myself using it with rice and salads. In fact, I liked eating it by the spoonful straight out of the jar.