Packed with protein and nutrients, it’s worth adding some lentil recipes to your repertoire.
Lentils – these teeny-tiny wonder legumes (which used to be a staple in most South Asian and African homes) are fast gaining popularity across the globe. They are a great source of vegetarian protein and packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Popularly eaten in stews and daals, there are so many other interesting ways to include lentils in our diets. So here are some tasty lentil recipes suitable for all, regardless of whether you’re vegetarian or just want to introduce your family to meat-free Mondays!
Panchmel literally translates to “a combination or mixture of five.” As the name suggests, this dish uses five varieties of daal – whole green moong, split Bengal gram (chana), split red gram (toor), split black gram (urad daal) and split red lentil (masoor). The preparation is somewhere in between a rich and creamy daal makhani and a lighter everyday tadka daal. The five varieties of lentils are boiled until soft and mushy, and cooked further in a tomato gravy flavoured with spices.
2 tbsp whole green moong
2 tbsp split Bengal gram
2 tbsp split red gram
2 tbsp split black gram
2 tbsp split red lentil
2 tsp cumin seeds
A pinch asafoetida (also known as hing – ask at an Indian grocery store)
2 to 3 cloves
4 to 5 black peppercorns
2 whole dried red chillies, halved
2 green cardamom
1½ tsp grated ginger
1 green chilli, sliced in half
1 medium-sized tomato, finely chopped
½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp amchoor (dried mango) powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp red chilli powder
1½ cups of water for boiling the lentils
1 cup additional water
2 tbsp ghee or oil
3 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
2 tsp salt (or as per taste)
- Rinse and soak the whole green moong and split black gram overnight.
- Rinse and soak the remaining lentils for 30 minutes before cooking.
- Add all the lentils with 1.5 cups of water and ½ tsp salt to a thick bottomed wok or a pressure cooker. Cook until soft and mushy.
- In another deep wok, add oil and once hot, add cumin seeds; when the seeds start to crackle, add asafoetida, cloves, black peppercorns, dried red chilli, cardamom, grated ginger and roast for 30 seconds on a medium-high flame making sure the spices do not burn.
- Then add finely chopped tomatoes to the above mixture and cook until mushy. Then add all the powdered spices and cook for one minute until oil starts to separate.
- Add the boiled lentils and mix well. Cook uncovered for about a minute.
- If the mixture is too thick, add half a cup of water and bring to a boil, then reduce the flame to medium, add the remaining salt, cover and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Check to see if you need to add extra salt, garnish with coriander and serve hot with rice and veggies of your choice (or enjoy a hot bowl as is).
- Even if you do not have all five kinds of daal at hand, you could increase the quantities of the daal you do have and still enjoy this recipe.
- Whole green moong can be swapped with regular yellow moong daal.
- While it does affect the taste slightly, amchoor powder can be swapped with lime juice.
Meals during scorching summers are incomplete without a refreshing salad. And this crunchy, sweet and tangy sprouts salad is the perfect light and filling summer meal. The humidity in Hong Kong may not be one of our favourite features of this lovely city, but it does help making sprouts at home super easy. Just soak the beans overnight, wrap them in a moist muslin and leave them in a warm part of your kitchen (oven preferably) and let sit there overnight. Tiny shoots will sprout by the next morning.
1 cup whole green moong sprouts
1 tbsp finely chopped onions (optional)
2 tbsp coarsely chopped cucumber
2 tbsp toasted and coarsely chopped peanuts
1½ tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)
¼ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 tbsp tamarind pulp
1 tbsp jaggery or brown sugar
1 green chilli finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
¼ tsp salt or as per taste
- Soak the tamarind pulp in half a cup of warm water and set aside for 20 minutes. Then strain and discard the pulp and save the dark brown liquid.
- To 2 tbsp of the tamarind liquid, add the jaggery, green chilies and salt and mix well. Let the flavours soak for 15 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator, then adjust the taste to suit your preference.
- In a deep bowl, take moong sprouts, onions (if using), cucumber, cherry tomatoes, mint leaves and add the tamarind-jaggery dressing.
- Mix well, top with chopped toasted peanuts and toasted sesame seeds and serve right away.
- Fruits like pomegranate, berries, green apple etc add flavour to this salad. You could also add some greens of your choice.
The lesser known cousins of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), these black chickpeas are not only a great source of plant-based protein but also much higher in fibre and iron content.
Do not discard that not so pleasant looking liquid left behind after you boil a cup-full of black chickpeas – it is packed with iron, calcium and folate.
These black chickpea kebabs are a perfect starter or even a complete lunchbox meal.
1 cup black chickpeas, rinsed and soaked overnight
2 medium-sized boiled potatoes
½ cup cornmeal or breadcrumbs
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp garam masala or chicken curry masala
½ tsp amchoor (raw mango powder) or 1 tsp lime juice
½ tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1½ tsp salt or as per taste
3 tbsp oil for shallow frying
- Pressure cook the chickpeas with 2 cups of water and ½ tsp salt until soft and mashable; mash when still hot, then keep aside to cool.
- Mash potatoes and keep aside until cool.
- Once cooled, mix the mashed chickpeas and potatoes with the remaining ingredients, test for salt.
- Take tennis ball sized pieces of the mixture and flatten between your palms to make small discs. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Shallow fry on a low flame, flipping gently until cooked through and the outside has coloured.
- Adding whole spices (like one black cardamom, an inch long cinnamon stick and 2 green cardamoms) while pressure cooking the chickpeas will elevate the flavour of the dish.
Featured image courtesy of Getty. All other images courtesy of Asmita Bharadwaj Das.