Every culture has a food they believe will promote prosperity in the coming year. Some people ring in the new year by eating grapes, others by chomping down a bowl of black-eyed peas. For me, New Year’s Eve means whipping up some lentils. In many Spanish-speaking countries, lentils symbolize prosperity and good fortune.
This past weekend, I got hit with a whammy of a cold that left my head feeling foggy. Although I felt totally drained, I didn’t want to dismiss my tradition of eating lentils. I mean, what if I suffered a year of misfortune?? Instead, I whipped up a batch of Easy Red Lentils, adapted from a delicious Indian recipe from Aarti Sequeira. This dish is a cinch to put together, requiring just a few spices and a bit of time. The result is a delicious, comforting dish that will warm you from the inside out. Happy New Year!
Easy Red Lentils
Adapted from Aarti Sequeira
What You’ll Need:1 cup red lentils, picked through for stones
2 cups water
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1-15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 jalapeno, sliced in half
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon canola oil
fresh cilantro, for garnish
Put the lentils in a strainer and rinse in cold water. Place the strainer in a larger bowl and cover the lentils with water. Let them soak for 30 minutes, then drain.
In a medium saucepan, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds, then the spices. They should sizzle and the seeds may even try to jump out the pan. Heat the mixture for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, being careful not to let it burn! Add the onions, garlic and ginger. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes, until aromatic. Add the tomatoes, jalapeno and lentils. Mix everything to combine. Add the 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low and let the lentils simmer for about 40 minutes, until very soft.
Stir the lentils with a wooden spoon, mashing some so the mixture thickens. Add salt to taste. Serve in small bowls and garnish with cilantro. Enjoy!