Updated: Jun 25, 2020
For me, lentils epitomize comfort food. In Mauritius, lentils are normally eaten over rice, coupled with a beef curry, a cooling cucumber salad, and some crusty baguette.
The quality of the lentils themselves play a huge part in the overall flavor of this dish. I always purchase dried brown lentils (also called Pardilla lentils) because they have much more flavor.
The recipe calls for a pressure cooker to speed up the cooking, but if you don't have one, follow the same instructions and increase the cooking time to 45 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Pressure cookers are an incredible time-saver, and well-worth the investment (go for Hawkins, they're the best).
•ginger & garlic
•salt & pepper
In a pressure cooker, place 1 cup of dry Pardilla lentils, 4 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp each of minced garlic and ginger, 1 tsp of dried thyme, 3 cups water, and one diced onion. Also add 1/3 cup canned tomatoes, but crush them in your hands first to break them up before adding them to the pot.
Seal the pressure cooker and cook on medium heat till the pressure cooker becomes fully pressurized. Once it lets out its first puff of steam, reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
To check if the lentils are fully cooked, carefully release all the pressure from the pressure cooker and open the lid. Do not try and open the pressure cooker till all the pressure has been released. The lentils should be completely soft but still hold their shape. If they need a few more minutes, reseal the pot and return it to the stove on medium heat. Once the pot re-pressurizes, cook on low for another 5(ish) minutes.
Once the lentils are cooked, de-pressurize and open the pressure cooker. Using a hand blender or whisk, mix the lentils to break them up. Add a bit of water if the lentils are too thick. The curry should be the consistency of a thick soup and should be easily pourable over rice. Finally, season the dish with salt and pepper and serve with steamed basmati rice or warm bread.
For variety, these lentils could be blended into soup. Perfect for winter nights.
Image courtesy of F. Sowe.