Fresh and healthy salads are always a wonderful accompaniment to any meal. My Spicy Lentil Salad is high in both protein and bold flavors. Chaat Masala is the key spice used in this dish; freshly prepared homemade chaat masala is always the best but feel free to buy the readymade version available in most Indian grocery stores.
This easy and delicious dish is perfect for entertaining and is always a crowd pleaser. If you are pressed for time, canned lentils will work just as well. There are many variations to this dish, try using chickpeas or even sprouted moong daal. Using different combinations of your favorite herbs and vegetables such as green, red, orange or even yellow bell peppers will add a different flavor and a burst of lovely colors to this dish.
SPICY LENTIL SALAD
Yield: serves 4
4 cups lentils (cooked)
1 medium red onion, finely diced
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 small cucumber (Hothouse of Kirby variety)
2 Serrano chilies, finely chopped (to taste)
juice of one lime
¼ cup of fresh orange juice
¼ cup of oil (olive or canola)
½ cup of cilantro leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup of mint leaves, finely chopped
½ tsp chaat masala (recipe below)
salt and pepper, to taste
If you are using dry lentils, cook them either on the stovetop or using a pressure cooker. They should be tender but firm, do not overcook them. Drain well and let them cool completely.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, orange juice, salt, pepper, chaat masala and oil. Add the chilies and red onion. Mix to combine all the ingredients.
In a salad bowl, gently combine the lentils with the celery, tomato and cucumber. Stir the dressing; pour over the lentils and vegetables. Gently toss together and garnish with the cilantro and mint leaves. Serve at room temperature.
1 tbsp cumin seeds
½ tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp ginger powder
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp dried mint leaves
2 tbsp amchur powder (dried mango)
pinch of asafetida (hing)
2 tsp salt
In a large frying pan over medium heat, lightly toast the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cloves and peppercorns. Stir the spices so as not to burn. Remove completely from the heat and allow to cool.
In a spice grinder, add the toasted spices along with the dried mint leaves, chili powder, paprika, ginger powder, garam masala, hing, amchur powder and salt. Grind into a fine powder. Store in an airtight container.