This recipe is a modern take on dal, an Indian basic, with a seriously garlicky, sweet, tart, and hot bite. It’s a kissing cousin to the fiery hot vindaloo, the classic dish from the Indian province of Goa. You will have to raid a spice store, but the whole spices will keep well and are now available at well-stocked grocery stores or online—and it is oh-so worth it. This dish is best made several hours in advance, so the wonderfully flavorful spice mixture can marry with all the other ingredients; if you can, make it 12 hours, or even 2 days in advance. Pair it with our Sesame Naan, serve it over a bed of crispy romaine lettuce, add a dollop of a tart, creamy plain yogurt and you’ve got a memorable lunch or light supper that is thoroughly pareve, vegetarian and dairy free.
- 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 6 black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon green cardamom seeds
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled, bitter green center discarded, grated
- 1 piece ginger (2 inches by 1 inch), peeled and grated
- ½ cup canola oil, or other neutral oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce, preferably sriracha
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1½ cup black lentils, picked over to remove any small rocks and debris
- 4 cups unsalted Roasted Vegetable Stock or store-bought low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, and cut into ½-inch dice
- 2 green apples
- Heat a heavy saucepan or cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add the mustard seeds, fenugreek, peppercorns, coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, and bay leaf and cook over medium-high heat until the spices are fragrant, swirling the pan occasionally, being careful not to let them burn (they might pop; this is normal). Once they are strongly fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes, place them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder (dedicated to spices, not coffee!) with the salt, turmeric, and cinnamon, and grind until the mixture is powdery. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the garlic, ginger, and oil and stir until the mixture becomes a paste. Spoon this paste into the saucepan that you toasted the spices in. Cook the paste for 1½ to 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. Again, be careful not to let the spices burn. Remove from the heat and gently stir in the mustard, hot sauce, and vinegar. Set aside.
- Make the lentils: Pour the lentils and stock into a small saucepan, and heat over high heat, covered, just until it boils gently. Stir gently and lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 18 to 20 minutes. The lentils should be soft but not mushy. Remove from the heat.
- Core the apple and cut it into ½-inch dice, leaving the peel on. Gently fold the spice mixture and diced fruit into the lentils and stir to coat. Refrigerate until chilled, for about 1 hour. The dish will develop and the flavors will mingle and mellow over time—so if you can, make it up to 12 hours or even 2 days in advance. It will keep, refrigerated, for 3 days in a covered container.