Daal, a name for lentils in India, is full of protein and will easily absorb flavors. We roast our lentils first and add Spanish Needles greens and herbs and spices for this filling wild dish.


2 cups red lentils
1 finger fresh turmeric
1 large bay leaf
3 1/3 cups water, divided
3/4 pound Spanish Needles greens, washed and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 fresh, hot red or green chillies, cut into 1 in. pieces


Prepare the lentils. Pick through them to remove any stones or grains. Put them on a clean tea towel and rub gently to remove as much surface dust as possible. Then, heat a cast-iron pan over a medium-low flame. Allow it to get hot and then add the lentils. Stir and roast until many of the grains turn golden-red. (The color will not be uniform, but that is all right.) Put the roasted lentils in a bowl and wash it in several changes of water. Drain.


Put the lentils in a pan. Add the turmeric, bay leaf and 2 cups of water. Stir and bring to a simmer.


Turn the heat to low, cover but leave the lid slightly ajar. Cook gently for about 1 hour until the grains are quite tender.


Add the Spanish Needles greens, salt, red chili powder and 1 1/3 cups of water. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice during this cooking period.


Heat the vegetable oil in a small pan or frying pan. When hot, add the cumin seeds. A few seconds later, when the seeds start to pop and sizzle, put in the red or green chillies. Stir once and then pour the contents of the small pan or frying pan over the cooked lentils. Serve immediately.

Note: Careful to not serve chillies to unsuspecting guests.

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