Warm Lentil Salad with Coconut and Tomato

Serves 4


2½ tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon yellow split peas
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 whole dried red chiles
8 fresh or 12 frozen curry leaves, torn into pieces (optional)
18 teaspoon asafetida (optional)
1 fresh hot green chile, cut corsswise into thin slices
1 red onion, sliced
1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
1 small tomato, chopped
1 cup split peas or lentils simmered in water to cover until tender, and drained
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro


Combine the oil, the mustard seeds (if using), and yellow split peas in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or casserole dish over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the mustard seeds crackle and/or the dal begins to color, 1 to 2 minutes. (Cover the pan if using mustard seeds; they pop and splatter.)

Add the cumin and cook, stirring, until the cumin turns golden brown, about 1 minute.

Add the dried chiles, curry leaves, and asafetida (if using), and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. (Stand back when using the curry leaves; they spit when they hit the oil.)

Add the fresh chile, onion, and salt, and cook until the onion softens, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the coconut, if using, and cook, stirring, until it turns golden brown, about 2 more minutes. Add the tomato, and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the cooked lentils, lemon juice, and cilantro, and stir until the lentils are warmed through. Taste for salt. Spoon the salad into a serving bowl, and serve warm or at room temperature.

© Recipe Property of Suvir Saran