This is one of my favorite dishes. And, even better, it is a type of dish I like to call a weeknight mainstay. This means it has few enough ingredients and takes less than 40 minutes of preparation to make on a regular weeknight, including those weeknights where I'm feeling less than ambitious. Thank you Raghavan Iyer! His book, 660 Curries is one of my most-used and adored cookbooks.
It is a little spicy, but surprisingly not bad given the Serrano chile content (I am pretty weak when it comes to spices). One word of caution, don't overcook the lentils! If you cook them too long, they become really starchy and kind of stiff.
Garlicky Green Lentils
1 cup skinned split green lentils (moong dal) picked over for stones
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tbs ghee or canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafetida (I bought this from my local Indian grocery store, but you can also have it mailed to you from amazon.com and other online grocery stores)
6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped (I pressed the garlic in my garlic press)
2-3 freen green Thai, cayenne, or serrano chiles, stems removed, thinly sliced crosswise (do not remove the seeds)
1 1/2 tsp rock salt, pounded (I used one teaspoon of coarse kosher salt)
1. Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear.
2. Add the lentils to a medium-sized saucepan. Add three cups of water. Turn burner to medium heat.
3. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface.
4. Stir in the turmeric.
5. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, 18-20 mins.
6. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, heat the ghee.
7. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they turn reddish-brown (5-10 seconds).
8. Add the asafetida, garlic, and chiles.
9. Stir-fry until the garlic turns light brown, 1-2 minutes.
10. Set the skillet aside until the lentils are done.
11. Add the garlic mixture to the lentils. Cover the pan and simmer about 5 minutes.
12. Stir in the salt and serve.