Lentils are really great when you need to cook something tasty in a relatively short time frame. Although the folks that cook lentils a lot seem to draw relatively fine distinctions between different varieties, availability usually dictates which variety I use. In this dish, standard brown lentils are flavored using a spice blend that includes cumin, mustard, cayenne, turmeric, and asafetida. Brown sugar is added to lend just a bit of sweetness and tomatoes provide acidity to keep the dish from being cloying. Green chili and cilantro add some finishing notes to the flavor profile. Asafetida is a ground resin from a fennel-like plant native to the middle and far east. It can be obtained at some middle-eastern groceries or from the folks at World Spice.
My brother in law seemed to appreciate this quite a bit. As luck would have it, Brinn had prepared some really wonderful cracker bread the previous day. As you can probably see in the photo, the cracker is topped with a broad variety of spices and seeds laid out in strips across the width of the bread; pretty fun way to add some interest to this basic bread….