Indian lentil stew

Make this flavorful take on the classic vegetarian side dish.

"This high-protein, fiber-packed dish is typically made with toor dal, which are split dried pigeon peas that can be found in Indian and Middle Eastern markets," says cookbook author Grace Parisi. If you can't find them, you can substitute yellow peas, available in supermarkets. "Either way, just soak the dried beans overnight or first thing in the morning and you'll be ready to make this dish in 35 minutes," notes Parisi.

Serves 4

1 ¼ cups toor dal, or yellow split peas, rinsed and sorted
Coarse salt
2 serrano or jalapeño chiles, 1 halved and seeded, 1 seeded and minced
¼ cup canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
½ teaspoon brown or black mustard seeds
24 fresh or dried curry leaves
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Optional (for serving)
4 cups steamed basmati rice
Chopped cilantro
Warm naan

1. Put the dal in a medium pot, cover with cold water and let sit overnight or for 8 hours. Drain and return to pot with chile halves and 3 cups water. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until just tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Discard chile.

2. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Add onion, garlic, minced chile, ginger, cumin, turmeric, mustard seeds, and curry leaves, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and just beginning to brown. Add tomato, season with salt, and cook until softened.

3. Add mixture to dal and return to a simmer. Cover and cook on low heat until very tender, about 15 minutes. Remove cover and cook over medium-high heat until liquid is slightly reduced. Season to taste with salt. Using a whisk, add butter and whisk to break up some of the beans.

To Serve: Divide into 4 bowls with rice and sprinkle with cilantro. Pass with naan.

Also in this series: Coconut Fish Curry and Tandoori Chicken