In my palette of dried beans and lentils, it is the red lentil that is used least of all. I am not sure why. Its colour is lively, it is so easy to cook, does not require previous soaking and it falls to a wonderful creamy mush as it cooks. Perfect for when there is never enough time.
Red lentils were one of the four pulses commonly available as I was growing up – red lentils, split peas, yellow split peas, barley – and was often thrown by the handful into overcooked soups and stews, left bland and forgotten at the bottom of the dish in an era when spices and herbs were not to be found in any Proper Country Australian Housewife’s kitchen. These women knew how to cook vegetables and meat for their men, but not “these dried things”.
That certainly has changed. This red lentil, called Masoor Dal in India, has a solid place in the pantry now. It is not to be confused with Toor Dal, commonly called Red Gram or Red Lentils in Indian recipes.