Friday, June 27, 2014

Masoor (Red Split Lentil) Dhal with Potato and Vegetables, Madagascar Pink Rice, Salad including Sungold Cherry Tomatoes (No Added Fat)

I thought that I would try another red split lentil dish (Masoor Dhal) like the one that I had made a few weeks ago during my Dad's visit. I had some friends coming over as well, and thought that they may enjoy this. I did something similar to what I did last time, but also included potatoes.

I thought that I would cook the lentils (15-18 minutes under high pressure), potatoes (7-9 minutes cubed and 12-15 minutes whole), as well as carrot, corn kernels, and asparagus chunks (any of which take 1-2 minutes) to cook in the Instant Pot. Last time, I cooked the lentils for 13 minutes and then another 4 minutes with additional vegetables. The texture was good so I was thinking of using similar cooking times. For my Dad, I used longer cooking times to ensure a very soft product, but tonight I used a bit less time.

The potato wouldn't cook in 2 minutes, so I decided to add the potato to the lentils but cut the potato into large 3/4" cubes, expecting them still to be a bit overcooked. Here is what I did.

  • 2/3 cup red split lentils
  • 1 large Russet potato cut into 3/4" cubes
  • 2 1/4 cups water (the lentils would cook in 2 cups - a 1:3 ratio of lentils to water - but I added a bit more in case necessary for the potato)
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/8 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t cumin seed (whole)
  • 1/8 t salt
  • Corn kernels stripped off of one cob
  • 4 spears asparagus, tough ends removed and then chopped into 1/2" pieces (I wish I had more in stock - 6-8 spears would have been good)
  • Small or medium bell pepper chopped into 3/8" cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped reasonably finely
  • 2 carrots cut into 1/4" lengths
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 small shallots (or 1/4 cup onion), cut into a small dice between 1/8" and 1/4"
  • 3T of red onion, chopped into 1/4" cubes (alternately, instead of shallot/onion and red onion, up to about a half cup of one kind of onion could be used)
  • 1t ginger, chopped reasonably finely

  1. I put the lentils, potato, water, bouillon cube, turmeric, cumin, and salt in the Instant Pot and cooked in high pressure for 14 minutes.
  2. I waited till I had to move forward, then slowly released the pressure. I tried the dish so far - surprisingly, the lentils were done and, of course, the potato was already a bit overcooked. The dish was not very moist, but, as is, was ready to be served as a good course!
  3. I added the rest of the ingredients except for the shallot, red onion, and ginger (including a little extra water, as listed above) and cooked for another 2 minutes on high pressure. I actually forgot to include ginger as I was cooking and would have preferred to have added it at the very beginning, but instead we got more pungent fresh ginger.
  4. When I was ready to serve, I slowly let out the remaining steam, mixed in the shallot and ginger, and served. My friends' baby apparently eats a bit of spice (I wish that my preschooler did!), but I still didn't want to add jalapeno to the dish; instead, I had hot sauce for people to add as they liked at the table.
I also served some Madagascar pink rice, sungold golden cherry tomatoes (they're in season! they are like candy!), cucumber with hemp seeds, and fresh basil from my garden.


We all enjoyed dinner. The dish could certainly have been spicier, but was good and hearty as it was. I really like a lentil dish like this with vegetables, and the potato added a nice heft.

Ideas for the future

I love working with lentils and vegetables in the pressure cooker. Here are some specific thoughts on tweaking for the future tonight's meal:

  • If not cooking for children, some jalapeno cooked with the other ingredients would be nice.
  • Instead of turmeric, twice as much garam masala could be nice.
  • With the potato, I needed a bit more water in the initial cycle. The end result was definitely like a stew and welcome, but if I want to make something dense enough to serve on a plate, then I might want to add less water in the second cycle. Next time, if I cook lentils and potatoes together, I might want to start with a 1 : 3 1/2 ratio of lentils to water. As long as the intermediate point isn't dry, perhaps the additional two minutes of cooking could be done with no more water, if the desire is for something less liquidy. For something with the consistency of tonight's dish, I might go with the 1 : 3 1/2 ratio initially and then add a little more water to come up with the same overall ratio of about 1:4 (2/3 lentils : 2 3/4 water, or 8:33).
  • Ideally, the potato should cook a little less, but I don't think any of us minded the softness. I did have a few slightly bigger pieces of potato that I liked. Perhaps the thing to do is to put the potato in at the beginning, as I did, for convenience, but cut them into larger pieces, perhaps 1" or slightly larger cubes.
It would be fun to try similar dishes with different kinds of lentils. I wonder what the dish would be like with some quinoa or perhaps barley, as well. Other vegetables that would go well in this kind of dish might be squash (some hubbard squash would particularly add a nice sweetness!) and/or raw peas (i.e., added at the end). I was tempted to put just a little bit (maybe 1/8 teaspoon) of cinnamon in for a subtle taste, and should try that in a similar dish in the future.

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