This recipe is a perfect example of how many different kinds of lentils may be used together, and even combined with meat which can be omitted for the vegetarian version. An example of Parsi cooking, the recipe has many parts, but is not a difficult one.
250 g/8 oz toor, toovar or arhar dhal
125 g/4 oz chick peas
125 g/4 oz mung dhal
125 g/4 oz red lentils
2 slender eggplants (aubergines), thickly sliced
1 slice butternut or other firm squash, peeled
1 large potato, peeled and halved
1 onion, peeled and quartered
Optional meat or poultry
1 kg/2 lb boneless lamb, cubed
or 1 roasting chicken, jointed
10 large dry red chillies, soaked
5 fresh green chillies, seeded
10 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 tablespoons ghee or oil
3 large onions, finely sliced
Wash the lentils well, combine in a bowl and soak overnight in water to cover. Drain and replace water with fresh cold water. In a large pan put the lentils, water, meat or chicken (if not making a vegetarian version) and simmer until lentils and meat are tender. Remove meat or chicken and set aside. Puree lentils and vegetables in a food processor.
Puree wet seasonings in an electric blender until a smooth puree, adding a little water if necessary.
Combine ingredients for dry seasonings in a small bowl.
Heat ghee or oil in a large heavy pan and when hot fry the onions, stirring frequently, until the onions are deep brown. Remove from pan and reserve. Fry blended mixture in the same pan, stirring constantly. Add dry seasonings and stir until fragrant. Return half the browned onions to the pan, add the meat or chicken and the lentils and vegetables. Bring to the boil, add salt to taste and simmer for 30 minutes longer. Serve garnished with remaining fried onions and accompanied by brown rice and an onion salad.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)