Friday, February 18, 2011

Black lentils

As I mentioned in my last post, we had some friends over for Indian, and my black lentils failed. Well, they didn't fail, they are delicious, actually, but I am discovering that I need to actually read a recipe before I begin to prepare it. Here's what happened.

First, I have to share a story about obtaining the lentils themselves. Black lentils aren't true lentils, they're beans, but they are widely available in Indian grocers, of which there are two near my house. I went to Vishnu Foods in Schaumburg, which had a wide variety of spices and lentils to choose from. I picked up the lentils, whole cumin seeds, and ground coriander. The clerk at the register asked me a bunch of questions, all related to why this white chick was buying a bunch of Indian spices. Awesome.

At home, when I was assembling ingredients and kitchen tools, I thought, "Chicken tikka masala? Check. Aloo gobi? Check. Rice and pitas? Check." I thought I had everything figured out for the lentils: I'd get up and prepare it at 8 a.m. and it would be ready at noon - 4 hours, typical slow cooker time span. I started tossing ingredients in the crock, including: black lentils, chopped onion, grated ginger, grated garlic, chopped cilantro, and a whole load of spices that I can't remember off the top of my head right now. Turmeric, red chili powder, cumin, and garam masala come to mind, but I'll have to edit this later.

When everything was in the pot and I turned the slow cooker on, my stomach fell: 8 hours cooking time on high. Damnit.

Oh well, it looked pretty. Look at all those spices!

So, the lentils were obviously not ready for lunch, as I, alas, cannot bend the laws of physics. These lentils take epically long to absorb cooking liquid, even on high heat. However, they did smell amazing and tasted really authentic - when I ate them for lunch the next day.

I have to say, the lentils really taste authentic. The Indian Slow Cooker book, which I bought at the 2010 Schaumburg Diwali festival, is really fantastic. I can't wait to do more of her recipes! (And I will actually check the cooking time in the future...)

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