One of the many great things about living in a metropolis like Toronto is the exposure one gets to ethnic foods. Having grown up in a rural area, international cuisine is not exactly what I was used to when I moved here. I remember the first time I went to an Indian restaurant with colleagues. Everything on the menu was so foreign that I let them order for me. From the spicy papadums as appetizer to the savoury sauces that constitute virtually all dishes, it was quite an exotic experience. I’m happy to report that Indian food now ranks high on my top favourite cuisines.
A few months ago, frustrated that I couldn’t find a spice I needed in several Indian recipes I wanted to try, I decided that a shopping excursion to Little India was in order. Boy was I pleased with the selection! I got out of the very first market with a big box of it, rather proud of my discovery… only to find out later that the “spice” I was looking for (garam masala) is just a blend of several spices I already had!
Dahl-Inspired Lentil Soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1/4 tsp chili powder (or more!)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 large can of diced tomatoes
- 1 cup split red lentils
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 and 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 can of coconut milk
- Salt and pepper
- Lemon slices and chopped fresh cilantro as a garnish
Sauté the onions and garlic in the oil for 2-3 minutes, stirring. Add the spices and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, lemon juice, stock and coconut milk, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked and tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish each portion with a lemon wedge and chopped fresh cilantro. Serve with warm naan bread *. Serves 4-6 (Recipe adapted from Jenny Stacey’s What’s cooking: Vegetarian).
The best part about this soup? Dipping the naan bread in, of course.