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It took me a while to learn to love a lentil, but once I did there was no turning back.  The absolute first time I ever cooked lentils was for lentil soup, and I proudly announced my accomplishment to this guy I had a crush on.  “How long did you soak them for?” he inquired.  Panic struck.  I hadn’t soaked them at all, and I didn’t want to look like a fool.  “Forty-five minutes,” I lied, thinking that sounded plausible.

As it turned out, we were both fools, because lentils don’t need soaking (I don’t know where Crush got the idea they did).  Indeed, their blithe disregard for the bath all other dried legumes must endure is part of their charm.

mjedrah, mujardareh,  mdjardara, mjeddra

Since those days, I have developed a real affection for the lentil and its homely, honest ways.  The notion that anyone would feel a need to lie about lentils seems laughable now, but there you have it.  I may not be the only cook who’s had to make her peace with being a fool, but at least I’m a happy and well-fed one.

Read In Praise of the Humble Lentil at NPR’s Kitchen Window here.

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