Horse gram is a lesser known variety of lentil that is used a lot in South India. Chock full of nutrients, I often use them in place of the more common green or brown lentils. I find that unlike other lentils, they hold their texture upon cooking; meaning, they are slightly more forgiving when it comes to cooking times without going all mushy on you.
Lentils of any kind are the most versatile building blocks for salads. They also have this amazing ability to absorb all the flavours that you pair them with, which is perfect here since I’ve used a bold dressing—dijon mustard, red wine vinegar (immensely satisfying because it’s the same colour as the beets), garlic, lime juice, and extra virgin olive oil. There is nothing lacklustre about this lentil salad!
Horse gram, upon cooking, has a slightly bitter undertone. The beets, when roasted, have an earthy sweetness to them. The feta, umm because it’s feta, is salty. The dijon mustard is pungent and the lime and vinegar, sour. So in a really roundabout way, all I’m trying to say is that even with such pronounced flavours, there’s balance. And heaps of flavour. This is meant to be a side dish, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably find yourself eating the whole lot of it for dinner.
Fresh spinach leaves or other salad greens (optional)
For the dressing:
1 1/2 teaspoons
clove of garlic, minced
red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons
lime juice (or 2 tsp lemon juice)
extra virgin olive oil
Freshly grated black pepper
Salt, to taste
Add the horse gram to a pot with 2 cups of water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer, clamp on a lid, and cook until tender (you want them to still hold their shape without being too hard). Once tender, drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 180 C (360 F). Wash and dry the beetroots. Lay them out on an aluminium foil and coat with olive oil. Scrunch up the foil and bake them in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until tender (a knife inserted into the beets should have no resistance). Once done, leave them to cool slightly, then peel back their skins and discard. Chop the beets into approx 2”X2” pieces. Set aside.
To make the dressing, just add all the ingredients listed above to a bottle and shake until well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Add spinach leaves, radishes, roasted beets, sliced onions, and horse gram to a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Crumble the feta on top and serve. Can be eaten warm or cold.