This Indian dish features the winning combination of shrimp and lentils in a stew seasoned with aromatic spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and cumin. Do yourself a favor and gather all of the ingredients together beforehand.
Shrimp With Lentils (Jinghewale Dhal)
3/4 cup channa dhal or yellow lentils, washed and soaked for 1-2 hours (see note)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 medium tomato
3 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
6 green cardamom pods, bruised
2 bay leaves
1-3 green chiles, deseeded and finely chopped
1 (1-inch) cube ginger root, finely grated
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 cups cooked and peeled shrimp
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, leaves and stalks, finely chopped, divided use
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Note: Channa dhal, also spelled chana dhal, can be found at Indian markets.
Drain the lentils and place in a saucepan with 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil and add the turmeric and red pepper. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pan and cook for 25 to 45 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Using the back of a spoon, mash some of the lentils by pressing against the side of the pan.
About halfway through the time it takes to cook the lentils, peel the tomato, then cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and chop the flesh roughly.
In a frying pan, heat the oil over low heat and add the cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and bay leaves. Let them sizzle for 20 to 25 seconds. Add the green chiles and ginger, and fry gently for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the coriander and cumin, and cook for 1 minute before adding the shrimp, tomato and salt. Increase the heat to medium and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
Pour the shrimp mixture into the lentils. Add 3 tablespoons cilantro and lemon juice, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove bay leaves, cinnamon stick and cloves, if you can find them. Garnish with the remaining cilantro. Serve with cooked basmati rice.
To make a vegetarian version, omit the shrimp and use more diced tomato as well as diced bell pepper, zucchini, celery or onion, to taste.
[amazon-product]1862056196[/amazon-product]Makes 4 servings.
Adapted from “Secrets From an Indian Kitchen” by Mridula Baljekar