the appetizer:

Popular TV chef Padma Lakshmi spices up your taste buds with her new cookbook, Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet. Recipes include Yellow Velvet Lentil Soup with Cumin and Dried Plums; Sautéed Cauliflower with Anise and Cashews; and Sautéed Calamari with Checca.



Yellow Velvet Lentil Soup
with Cumin and Dried Plums

Serves 8

Yellow Velvet Lentil Soup with Cumin and Dried Plums


I once went to the annual kite festival in Ahmedabad in Gujarat, in western India. It's a day of celebration when most people can be found on their roofs flying so many kites that the sky looks peppered with locusts. My host, the lovely and beautiful Kinnari, usually makes a feast for the 60 or so people who come through her home on that day. Gujarati food is known for its incredible variety of vegetables, lentils, and fruits. I love the lentil soups, or dals, the best.

Gujarati dal has a slightly sweet and hot taste to it. This soup is inspired by the many luscious soups I tasted that weekend at Kinnari's house while flying colorful kites on the roof with the rest of the townsfolk.

  • 3 cups orange (masoor) lentils, washed well with warm water and drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 3 plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 10 dried plums, pitted, chopped lo bits
  • 1 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves

1 Fill a deep stew pot with the lentils, bay leaf, salt and enough water to cover the ingredients by 1 inch. Simmer on very low heat for 1 hour.

2 Heat the oil in a skillet and add the cumin seeds. After 2 minutes, add the shallots and ginger, and cook until shallots are glassy. Add the coconut and stir until the coconut is golden brown.

3 Add all the tomatoes and the curry powder, and sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes until the tomatoes start to wilt and lose their shape.

4 When the mixture forms a cohesive paste, add it to the lentils, stirring over low heat until nicely combined. Remove the bay leaves.

5 With an immersion blender, pulverize the lentils so that the whole mixture is roughly blended, but not totally liquefied.

6 Remove the soup from the heat and add the lemon juice, chopped plums, and cilantro. Stir in these final ingredients and serve hot.

  • from:
    Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet
  • A World of Recipes For Every Day
  • by Padma Lakshmi
  • Weinstein Books; 2007
  • Hardcover; 288 pages; $34.95
  • ISBN-10: 1602860068
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602860063
  • Recipe reprinted by permission.

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This page created November 2007

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