During these hot days, I just want to eat salad (and ice cream, always). While one can usually find wilted iceberg lettuce from the convenient street bhaji-sellers, obtaining leaves that taste like something, such as rocket (arugula), involves planning a trip to Crawford Market, a giant food warehouse of sorts, or going to one of the new grocery stores like Reliance Fresh or Nature’s Basket. However, in Bombay, I usually only go to grocery stores for specialty items like mustard or dried mushrooms because produce is much fresher from the street stalls and Crawford market. Anyway, with the impending monsoon, eating uncooked greens is not so advisable, so to assuage my appetite I turned to…lentils.
I love the lentil salads my parents used to make, with the olive-colored puy lentils that look like little gemstones, but I have no idea where to find them here. So I turned to something we always have in our Mumbai home- Massoor Dal, or red dal, which, by the way, turns yellow after it cooks. Instead of boiling the dal into a hot soup, I cooked the lentils in the pressure cooker until they were just done. While they cooled, I prepared the minty cumin and lime dressing. I added the cubed beets I had boiled earlier to bulk up the lentils, coated them both in the dressing and there I had it- my lively Bombay version of lentil salad, refreshing, red and earthy.
Lentil Salad with Beets and Minty Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
1 cup red lentils, boiled/pressure-cooked until just done
2 beets, boiled, chopped
for the dressing:
1 garlic clove, smashed
zest of 2 lemons
2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. chopped scallion
1 Tbsp. mint
1 green chile, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander seeds
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Put the cooked lentils and boiled, chopped beets in a medium bowl. Combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and let stand for 15 minutes. Pour it on top of the lentils and beets and mix well. Enjoy!