On Sunday, I pretended that I had a life of luxury and high society with my mother. First, a fancy brunch of red lentil dal with poached eggs and cucumber yogurt sauce (YUM). Next, the theater (when I typed that, the word “theater” was supposed to be in a British accent and drawn out in a very “fancy” way) to see Anything Goes.
And honestly, I can’t decide which was better- the meal, or the amazing tap dancing number that made me rethink my whole life and career, and rue the day I quit tap dancing lessons when I was six.
OK, the tap dancing was better. But since this blog is about food and not about how to further your career in musical theater, I’ll stick to what I know :-) And make no mistake- this meal was DELICIOUS.
The dal alone (dal is an Indian stew made with lentils, peas, or beans) is easy to make, flavorful, and very healthy. I first made red lentil dal from one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks, Meatless, from the kitchens of Martha Stewart. I adapted it to give it more of a kick, added poached eggs on top, and created my own yogurt sauce. The book is full of vegetarian recipes that are super hearty and unique, but are all very easy to make. I definitely recommend adding it to your collection! (And if you do, make the grilled polenta and balsamic mushrooms. Amazing.)
The dal itself is vegan, so if you want to, you can leave out the eggs and yogurt sauce and enjoy just the dal on top of rice (or by itself as a thick soup!). I love the combination of everything together, though- the crunchiness and coolness of the yogurt and cucumber mixed with the spiciness of the dal, and the yolk from the poached eggs mixing in with everything and binding it together… yummmmmmmmm. It’s definitely an impressive dish to make for guests, and super hearty without making you feel too full after (like some typical brunch fare).
And like 95% of my recipes, it’s 100% clean, unprocessed, real food. Eating real food just gets easier and easier, once you get started. I don’t even WANT processed foods anymore, and if I do have any, something about them just doesn’t taste quite… right. It’s like I’ve developed a palette to detect additives and preservatives in food after kicking them for a long time. I don’t even TRY to steal hot Cheetos from my students anymore when they have them!
When you read this recipe, please don’t be deterred by the long list of steps. This dish has many layers (rice, dal, eggs, and yogurt sauce), but each individual layer is SUPER easy to make, and you can make each thing while the rest of it cooks to have the whole thing ready in just about 30 minutes. I listed the instructions for all parts, including a trick for poaching the eggs by swirling the water and adding vinegar, below. Enjoy!
Red Lentil Dal with Poached Eggs and Yogurt Sauce
- 2 cups red lentils rinsed
- 5 cups water
- 1 onion diced
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups brown basmati rice
- eggs enough for 1-2 per person
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup diced cucumber
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar + 1 teaspoon for poaching eggs
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Saute dry rice with 1 tablespoon of olive oil on high heat in medium pot for approximately 2 minutes until toasted. Add 3.5 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until cooked (approximately 30 minutes).
- Meanwhile, toast cumin seeds in a dry large pot for approximately 1 minute or until fragrant, swirling as you toast. Remove and place in a small bowl or plate and mix with tumeric, curry powder, and cayenne.
- Saute onion and ginger in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until softened. Add garlic and saute for one more minute or until fragrant.
- Add spice mixture and lentils; stir until coated.
- Add 5 cups water, bring to a boil, and simmer until lentils soften, approximately 15 minutes. Add salt to taste when they finish cooking.
- Meanwhile, mix cucumbers, vinegar, cilantro, and yogurt together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- When you are ready to serve, poach eggs by simmering water and 1 teaspoon vinegar in a non-stick skillet. Crack eggs individually in a measuring cup or custard cups, stir water to swirl, and drop eggs one at a time into the water. Cook for about 3 minutes or until whites are set and yolks are still runny.
- Serve by layering rice, lentils, poached egg(s), yogurt sauce, and fresh cracked pepper in a bowl.
- Freezer directions: The lentil dal freezes beautifully in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Just defrost and reheat on the stove when you are ready to eat!