Cooking Indian food can sometimes seem daunting. Lots of interesting spices, lots of prep, lots of steps, and lots of simmering. Well, Indian food is actually quite simple once you learn the flavor profiles.

This recipe by Madhur Jaffrey is a simple, entry-level one that anyone can prepare. It’s delicious, and one of my favorites.

1/3 cup red lentils
1/3 cup yellow lentils
2 dried red chili pepper pods
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
3 TB olive oil
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
900ml water
coriander (cilantro) to taste on the finish

Step 1 – Prep
Combine the 2 lentils in a bowl and rinse in water baths quite a few times until the cloudiness starts to disappear, and drain excess water.

Step 2 – Cook
Place the lentils in a large pot or casserole dish on the stove.
Add the water and turmeric and stir.

Heat over medium-high heat uncovered until the mixture starts to boil. Right when it looks like it is going to boil over (will get foamy), reduce the heat to low, slightly cover, and simmer for 40 – 45 minutes.

Step 3 – Finish
after 40 – 45 minutes, turn heat off and stir mixture, and cover.
In a small pan, heat the olive oil until shimmery then add the pepper pods and garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes (or until the garlic starts turning slightly brown).
Add the cumin seeds and cook for about another minute.

Quickly remove the lid on the pot of lentils, and pour the entire oil mixture (peppers, garlic, and all) and the salt into the pot and immediately cover tightly.

Let sit for about 5 minutes so the flavors really build. Stir well and serve with coriander garnish.

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