Curry Spiced Lentil Salad
Altered ever so slightly from the original My New Roots, Best Lentil Salad, Ever….Even though I enjoy Indian foods and the many spices associated with that region of the world, this is not my comfort zone of cooking. I tend toward Mediterranean style cooking with a smattering of Asian influence and sometimes a bit of “California Mex”, but for me cooking Indian food is rare. My husband, once (many, many years ago) bought me a Vegetarian Indian cookbook (which was one of the most thoughtful and one of the rarest gifts he’s purchased completely on his own), which I have yet to make a single recipe from. It is not that I don’t love this gift and find many of the recipes in it interesting, but I’m scared off a bit by the looooong list of ingredients each recipe entails and not to mention the sheer weight of the book itself (which causes it to most often be used as a weight for pressing tofu, perhaps that’s why I don’t get many gifts from dear hubby, hmm). I do get turned off by very long recipes, even though I myself when improvising a recipe tend to add more and more ingredients as I go, but I also feel unfamiliar with the combination of spices and other ingredients that go into Indian cooking and can never really imagine in my mind and taste buds what exactly the final dish is going to end up as. So, on New Year’s Eve, searching for recipes that included foods that are said to bring good luck in the new year, I stumbled upon this recipe and decided without much thought to give it a go. I didn’t change it much, except for the quantity of some of the ingredients and left out or changed a few that my daughter doesn’t like. Skipped the currants and replaced them with cranberries and pomegranate seeds, the two add a nice balance of sweetness against the curry spice. Don’t let the long list scare you off, it’s mostly items from the spice drawer and the recipe comes together fairly quickly. What I ended up with was a lovely lightly spiced and a little bit sweet lentil salad for the new year.
1 ¼ cups dry French Black Lentils (about ½ pound) – don’t substitute other varieties as they will turn to mush when cooked, while the tiny French variety will hold up
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
½ Tbsp Honey
½ Tbsp Dijon Mustard
½ teaspoon Cumin
¼ teaspoon Turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground Coriander
¼ teaspoon Cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground Cayenne
1/8 teaspoon ground Cloves
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon
Salt and Pepper to taste, plus a little salt for cooking the lentils
2 Shallots – diced
¼ – ½ cup dried Cranberries – chopped
¼ – ½ cup Pomegranate seeds
About 1 Tbsp chopped fresh Mint
To make the salad, begin by preparing the lentils. Rinse, pick over and add to a pot with enough water to cover by a few inches. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes. The cooked lentils will retain a nice al dente bite. Once cooked, drain off and set aside to cool just a bit before adding to the dressing.
Meanwhile, make the dressing. Add all ingredients above after lentils and up to the cranberries. Whisk together and set aside until the lentils are done. Add the lentils to the dressing and stir. Add in the chopped cranberries and pomegranate seeds, then the chopped mint.
Optional add ins; other fresh herbs, maybe a bit of parsley or tarragon, some crumbled goat cheese… I enjoyed mine atop a Romaine salad.