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Wednesday Food: Lentil Dal and Raita

Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese are three of my favorite cuisines to eat but with which I am the least acquainted at preparing.  As with yeast in January, I intend to tackle the basics and learn to master a few simple dishes from each region.

Two Indian dishes are the subjects of my first attempt.  Dal (there are multiple spellings, also ‘dahl’) refers to split pulses– essentially legume seeds– such as lentils, peas, and beans.  It too refers to a simple dish of split pulses combined with aromatic vegetables and spices to make a stew.  Masoor dal are red lentils which are not actually red but more of a terracotta color and when cooked fade to an earthy yellow.  The lentils are gently boiled and a tadka of spices is lightly fried in oil and added to the dal.  This recipe from The Minimalist added sautéed onion (to which I added bell pepper) and cloves in the tadka, and produced a medium-spiced, slightly sweet result.

To compliment and contrast the dal, a cool yogurt-based raita is often served.  Similar to Greek tzataiki, it incorporates grated cucumber, fresh green chilis (I used serrano peppers), cumin, ginger and lemon juice.  Ben, of Tuesday Hatred renown, introduced me to FXcuisine where you can find a great recipe for raita and spend hours entertained by frank and whimsical food writing.

With your simple Indian feast I recommend a brown ale such as Bell’s Best Brown.  The rule of thumb for pairing beer with spice/ heat is that malt-heavy beers will mellow the spice and hop-heavy beers will accentuate it.  Your pairing choice, therefore, will forcibly attenuate the spice and seasoning as desired.


February 16, 2011 - Posted by | Wednesday Food

1 Comment

  1. That explains why it doesn’t seem to work when I drink a swig of my IPA to try to take the edge off spicy food.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | February 17, 2011

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