You can go two ways with red lentils—cook them until they are barely tender, 8 to 10 minutes, or cook them longer, 25 to 35 minutes and (whoops?) you’ve made a thick soup, popularly known as dal in India. This recipe features Indian spices–let’s shoot for the first and if we end up with dal, no problem.
Red lentils are not truly red, but more orange in hue, and when cooked, they turn yellow, even more so when seasoned with turmeric!
Today I saw Garlic Scapes in the local very expensive health food store. They were on sale: 2 for $6.00. Someone is laughing all the way to the bank and I bet it s not the farmer. But today we have scapes in our Ranui Gardens CSA box. Garlic scapes are mellow in garlic flavor, like green garlic, and another early bonus, besides green garlic, of a garlic crop. To prepare the scapes, trim and remove the seedpods from the top. Break away the tougher bottom part just as you might for asparagus.
The cumin and mustard seeds add a fabulous dimension to the curry and can be bought in small amounts from the bulk spice section at our local health food store. If you don’t have the seeds, substitute with ground spices.
Red Lentils and Garlic Scapes
1 cup red lentils
4 cups water
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon black (or brown or yellow) mustard seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon Real Salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 cup chopped garlic scapes (1/4-inch pieces)
Rinse and pick over the lentils, discarding anything foreign. In a saucepan, bring to a boil in the water. Cook about 8 minutes. The peas should still be firm, barely tender. Drain and rinse them with cold water. Set aside.
Measure the cumin and mustard seeds, the curry powder, coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic, salt and cayenne into a small bowl. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium flame. Add the scapes and sauté until the scapes are tender but crunchy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the spices and cook, stirring constantly, until you hear the mustard seeds pop, about 30 seconds. Stir in the cooked lentils and cook until they are heated through. Season to taste with salt, if needed.