Slow Cooker Lentil Dahl

Slow Cooker Lentil Dahl

I am making my own garam masala because I love the smell of the roasted seeds, and I have a spice grinder that does a quick job of grinding and blending the seeds. Pounding them yourself with a mortar and pestle can be good therapy if you’re feeling angry and have the strength! Dry roasting them first makes them easier to grind because heating them gets rid of moisture and makes them coarser.

You can experiment with what you have on hand. Typically a garam masala includes peppercorns, coriander, cumin, cloves and cinnamon. You can also include fenugreek, nutmeg, cardamom pods.

A word about dry roasting spices - they really change the flavor, sometimes remarkably so. Coriander, for example, before roasting is citrusy and floral. After the flavor is more earthy and grassy. Indians used to dry roast and ground their seeds to preserve them during the damp monsoon season, but discovered more depth and variations of flavor as a result.

You can of course skip the steps to make garam masala at home, and just use 2 tablespoons of a good store-bought garam masala. No shame in that at all, and I often just do that!

In case you were wondering, garam masala literally means hot spices, but it is not spicy peppery hot. (Then it would be a hot curry!) Also, I have modified the raita to be non-dairy with a coconut yogurt that I have on hand, and that recipe is separate and farther below.


Slow Cooker Lentil Dahl


I love this easy, flavorful nourishing meal. I especially love how easy it is. You can eat the lentil dish without the raita, but the cool flavors add a nice contrast to the spices that have been making your kitchen smell so good for hours. The recipe for the raita follows.

Makes: 6-8 servings

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Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 TB of whole coriander seed
  • 1 TB whole white peppercorns
  • 1 TB fenugreek seed
  • 1 TB cardamon pods
  • 1 stick cinnamon, broken up
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 cup of onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 28 ounce can of peeled tomatoes
  • 30 fluid ounces of vegetable broth, can add more or less to desired consistency
  • 2 cups sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1.25 cup green lentils
  • 1 TSP turmeric
  • 1 TSP cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 limes or oranges
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked (or quinoa)
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 TB garam masala

Instructions:
  1. In a saucepan, collect the peppercorn, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, cardamon pods and crushed cinnamon stick in a dry skillet. Over medium heat, toss the seeds to release their flavor, stirring and tossing them frequently.
  2. Transfer them to a bowl to all them to cool before grinding them either with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder.
  3. In a saucepan, sauté the onions in olive oil until soft and translucent, adding minced garlic halfway through cooking. I use a garlic press to get all the garlicky juices (I love garlic)
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of your ground spice mix or your bought garam masala to the onions and garlic and mix well.
  5. Transfer flavored cooked onions to slow cooker and add the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, lentils. At this point, since I like spicy I add the turmeric and cayenne pepper, but if you don’t you can omit this step.
  6. Add 16 ounces of the vegetable broth to start. You can always add more later to your desired consistency.
  7. Cook for 2 hours on high heat, stirring occasionally.
  8. At the 2 hour mark, break up the tomatoes, and add more broth. I add between 12 -16 ounces usually at this point.
  9. Continue to cook on high for 2 more hours.
  10. Serve over cooked brown rice or quinoa and squeeze juice of half a lime (or orange)
  11. Add either fresh avocado or some fresh raita for a burst of freshness.

Cucumber Raita


I have modified the raita to be non-dairy with a coconut yogurt that I have on hand today, but you can adjust to your dietary needs. Sheeps yogurt has a marvelous full texture.

Makes: 6-8 servings

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 whole Persian cucumber (washed but not peeled)
  • 2 cups sheep yogurt
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 TB fresh mint
  • 3-4 TB fresh dill
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1.5 TSP cumin

Instructions:
  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor, reserving half the cucumber.
  2. After all mixed, add in cumin and remaining cucumber only pulsing so that small chunks of cucumbers remain.
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