This 100% should be a staple in your dinner rotation. The ingredients are basic enough to have on hand (maybe the fresh ginger is an exception), and it's so full of flavor that it will never be described as basic.
"Twenty" by Michael Ruhlman
1 cup/200 grams mung beans, rinsed and cleaned
1/3 cup/50 grams black-eyed peas, rinsed and cleaned
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kala jeera (optional, if you have it)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more or less depending on your preference)
1/2-inch/12-millimeter piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, minced or smashed with the flat side of a knife
3 tablespoons butter (or ghee, or coconut oil or neutral oil)
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or as needed
1/4 cup/20 grams cilantro/fresh coriander leaves, torn or chopped (a delicious garnish, but optional)
- This recipe is part of the "acid" section of Ruhlman's "Twenty," demonstrating the power of contrast an acidic ingredient like vinegar or citrus juice can bring to a dish. Ruhlman suggests if you have access to tamarind pulp, to use that instead of lemon juice. Kala jeera is also known as black cumin and adds a smoky flavor to the dish. He also notes the demonstration of heating spices and aromatics in the butter before they are added to the beans. It's a powerful technique that can be adapted to many other interpretations and spice levels. Serve with basmati rice and fried bread or pappadams for a hearty vegetarian meal.
In a medium saucepan, combine the beans and peas. Add 3.5 cups/840 millimeters water. Bring to a simmer over high heat, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the water has reduced to the level of the beans and the beans are tender, about 45 minutes.
In a small dish, combine the cumin, kala jeera (if using), turmeric, cayenne, ginger, garlic, and 1.5 teaspoons salt. In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and cook until the frothing subsides and the butter has browned slightly. Or heat coconut oil or a neutral oil until shimmering. Add the spice mixture and saute for 20 seconds or so. Stir into the dal. Bring the dal to a simmer (it should be very moist; add more water and bring to a simmer if it's too dry), remove from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, and add more lemon or salt as needed. Serve garnished with cilantro/fresh coriander, if desired.