While I do love Indian food, I have to admit that I'm not really a huge fan of lentils, which are a pretty essential staple of the cuisine--especially for us vegetarians. But if you're like me, fear not! This is a fantastic alternative to get your lentil fix in a new and different way. It's a Punjabi dish that some have likened to an Indian version of chili. While I'm not quite sure it's the best analogy, it does give you an idea of what this dish is like: hearty, rich, comfort food!
Prep time: 2 cocktails
1 pound dried kidney beans
2 bay leaves
4 tomatoes, chopped
6 TBSP ghee, divided
2 1/2 TBSP coriander seeds
1 TBSP cumin seeds
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 TBSP salt
3 TBSP ginger, grated with a microplane or the finest grating of a box grater
Juice of 1 medium lemon
2-3 teaspoons whole fennel seeds
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Soak beans overnight. Rinse well and combine in large pot with bay leaves, tomatoes, 1 TBSP of the ghee, and four cups or so of water. Boil until beans are soft, adding water as necessary. A pressure cooker will make this go by a lot faster.
Once beans are cooked, remove 3/4 cup or so of beans and mash up in a bowl with a fork or potato masher. Return to the pot of beans.
Next, combine coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and thyme in a spice grinder. Grind into a powder. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor and add garam masala, turmeric, salt, ginger, and lemon juice.
Now, in a large Dutch oven, melt the remaining ghee over medium heat. Once it's melted, add the spice paste and simmer for 90 seconds or so. Then add the bean mixture and bring to a boil. then reduce and simmer until excess liquid is cooked off and you've achieved a chili-like consistency. Then stir in fennel seeds and cook 2-3 more minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve.