Sweet and Sour Red Lentils with Winter Squash and Black-Eyed Peas

By • October 3, 2016 1 Comments

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Author Notes: I had stumbled upon this homey dish unexpectedly on a chance visit to someone’s home. I was mesmerized by the complexity of textures and flavors and asked the chef for the process. What she described to me seemed implausible and too simple. Essentially, her process could be broken down to, throw ingredients into a pot, and simmer forever, stir and temper.
However last weekend I was home alone, feeling a little gloomy and was staring at the sweet potatoes that I had on hand. This dish seemed like the perfect thing to make, soothing, comforting and seasonal. Following memory and instincts I put this together and was rewarded with flavorful goodness. The preferred squash to use is something sweet like butternut squash, but any other squash works as well.
Rinku Bhattacharya /Spice Chronicles


Serves 6 to 8

For the Lentils

  • 1/2 cup red masoor lentils
  • 3/4 pound winter squash (such as butternut or kabocha) cubed and peeled
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper (more to taste, if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon teaspoons powdered cumin
  • 2 tomatoes chopped, or 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup black-eyed peas

For the tempering

  • 2 tablespoons oil or clarified butter (ghee)
  • 1.5 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 lime or lemon halved
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro to finish
  1. Place the red lentils, pumpkin or sweet potato and water in a heavy bottomed pot. Add in the water, salt, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cayenne pepper, cumin, tomatoes and black eyed peas.
  2. Bring the ingredients to a simmer, cover and cook for about 1 hour.
  3. Remove the lid and stir the mixture gently with a wooden spoon, until the red lentils and the squash mix together to form a smooth puree leaving the black eyed peas whole.
  4. In a separate pan, heat the oil and add in the mustard seeds and when they crackle add in the garlic and sauté until the garlic is fragrant.
  5. Pour the tempering over the lentils and stir well. Squeeze in the lime juice and garnish with cilantro and serve with rice and flat breads.

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