Say it with Roses ( and Rosy Red Lentils)
Public service announcement — Mother’s Day is Sunday. You still have time to send your mom some roses. Keep the rosy thing going with rosy red lentils. It’s light and lovely for a Mother’s Day brunch.
The flavors are layered and complex but not spicy — she’ll be impressed.
It’s amazingly quick and easy, thanks to the red lentils — you’ll save yourself some kitchen stress.
Red lentils are red when dried but turn pink and pretty upon cooking.
Red lentils are the weensiest members of the lentil family (there are at least a dozen different kinds), and cook up in minutes. Really. The only risk is you not trusting me on this and letting your lovely red lentils overcook and so go to mush.
Lentils of all colors and sizes are a great nutritional deal, high in protein and fiber, low in calories and fat, rich in folate and magnesium, and easy on the wallet. Plus they’re your friendliest of legumes, needing no presoaking.
The addition of turmeric and ginger adds more blush to the rosy red lentils, and nods to Indian origins.
Coconut and tamarind bring the Indian influence, too, but add a mild sweetness and tropical vibe, so we’re talking more Caribbean— West Indies rather than East Indies.
Coconut you probably know. Tamarind may be new to you. It’s a tropical tree and botanically speaking, it’s leguminous — it produces fruit in pods that look like bean pods. The fruit itself is sticky and tangy, kind of sweet and sour, and alas, has seeds, large flat ones.
Tamarind is sold in whole pods and tamarind paste in blocks and jars. Find it in many grocery stores, most Indian, Asian, Caribbean and specialty markets and online. You may need to pick out the seeds.
If sourcing tamarind is too much work, an easy sub is a tablespoon each molasses and fresh lime juice.
The beautiful thing about this dish is you can make it a day or two before. It allows the flavors to deepen and means no last-minute scrambling in the kitchen. You’ll impress your mom, you won’t break a sweat, it’s a win-win.
Enjoy rosy red lentils
mounded on greens as a salad
as a sandwich filling
as a relish
as a main course
It’s bright and delicious every way, but I like it best as an entrée. Rosy red lentils deserve to be the center of attention. Just like mothers do.
I created rosy red lentils a few years ago and made it for my own mother one Mother’s Day. I’m going to make it again this Sunday and remember her, how she was always up for some fun (and perhaps a cocktail). So here’s to you, Mom.
Wishing you and your mother the happiest, sweetest, rosiest Mother’s Day ever.
Mother’s Day Rosy Red Lentils
1 cup of red lentils, rinsed
2 cups water or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons coconut oil or grapeseed oil
1-1/2 tablespoons chickpea flour (also called besan)
1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric
3 tablespoons dried unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved if large
sea salt to taste
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Pour water or broth into medium saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Add red lentils. Cover and reduce heat to low.
Cook for 10 minutes, by which time the lentils will have plumped, turned tender and gone from red to rosy. Remove from heat and let them cool to room temperature.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in chickpea flour, turmeric, coconut and ginger, stirring for about 3 minutes, until mixture is toasty and fragrant. Add tomatoes. Stir well to coat. Turn off heat.
Gently stir lentils and tamarind paste into coconut and ginger mixture. Have a kind and light hand so as not to mushify lentils. Season with sea salt.
Cover and refrigerate overnight, if desired.
Best enjoyed at room temperature. Stir in chopped cilantro just before serving.
Serves 4 to 6.
Looking for a printable version of this recipe? Grab it here.
Serve with a chilled rosé for extra rosiness (Mom would approve) and
fluffy brown basmati rice
green hari chutney from my excellent friend Stefan Uch
naan, courtesy of Minimalist Baker
creamy, rose-scented malabi for dessert
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