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Lentils with Hot and Crispy Onion Topping

Lentils with crispy onion topping
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Lentils with crispy onion topping

A simple dish of cooked red and yellow lentils made extra special by topping them with hot and crispy onions. Superb as an accompaniment to almost any meat dish. Surprisingly tasty on its own.

INGREDIENTS

170 grams / 6 oz Split red lentils (massoor dal)

170 grams / 6 oz Split yellow lentils (moong dal)

1 medium onion

2 Fresh red or green chillies

1 teaspoon Cumin seeds

¼ level teaspoons Salt

½ teaspoon Ground turmeric

Pinch of Asafetida (optional)

3 tablespoons Ghee or vegetable oil

Nutrition information per portion
PREPARATION TIME: 10 minutes
 
COOKING TIME: 25 minutes
 
DIFFICULTY: Easy
 
FREEZE: No
 
SERVINGS: Six side servings
 
EQUIPMENT: Large frying pan

PREPARATION

Peel, top and tail the onion, cut in half then slice as thinly as possible.  Separate the individual layers of the onion rings (click the picture to see an enlarged version).

Sliced onions
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Sliced onions

Measure out the cumin seeds.
Finely chop the chillies.
Rinse the lentils several times, leave to drain.

ADVICE FOR LENTILS AND CRISPY ONIONS

Ghee is far more expensive compared to vegetable oil but both give almost the same results.

The "heat" in this recipe comes from the onion and chilli topping. This is great news if you are serving people with different taste preferences. Those who like their food with lots of chillies can incorporate lots of onions into the their portion of lentils. Those who are not so keen on "hot" flavours can add less of the onions.

We had some of these crispy onion topped lentils left over after cooking and tasting some of them. So we put them, covered, in the fridge. We then micro-waved them the next day and were very surprised at the results. The onions had lost some (not all) of their crispiness but overall the reheated lentils and onion topping were still very tasty. Something to bear in mind if you need to prepare in advance.

If you are on a budget then use only one type of split lentil (double the weight though). You can also substitute the chillies, which are an expensive ingredient, with around ½ level teaspoon of chilli powder - adjust according to how hot you like your flavours. Remember, the asafetida is optional and can be left out with little effect. Click here for details on asafetida.

RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS

STEP 1

Add the red and yellow split lentils to a pan. Add 1.2 litres / 2 pints of water and bring to the boil. Stir in the turmeric, salt and lightly boil the lentils for 20 minutes until they are tender.

Stir three times during cooking to ensure that the lentils don't stick to the base of the pan.

Simmering lentils
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Simmering lentils

STEP 2

While the lentils are cooking heat the ghee / vegetable oil to a medium high heat in a frying pan. Add the asafetida and cumin seeds to the pan and fry for 15 seconds. Add the chillies and onion to the pan. As soon as the onions begin to brown, turn the heat down to medium. Fry until the onions are fully browned and crispy.

The onions will be brown and crispy after about 15 minutes. While they are cooking, mix and turn them very frequently. If they start to burn, rather than brown, turn down the heat slightly.

Frying crispy onions
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Frying crispy onions

STEP 3

When the lentils are cooked drain them of water and place on a serving dish.

Spoon the onions out of the frying pan and onto the top of the lentils. Then spoon the liquid ghee / vegetable oil over the onions and lentils. Eat immediately, but see "Advice for Lentils and Crispy Onions" near the top of this article for preparing this dish in advance.

Lentils with crispy onion topping
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Lentils with crispy onion topping

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