We cook a lot of legume-based curries as side dishes. While they seem complicated at first, due to the sometimes intricate spice combinations, they are really pretty simple, quick to cook and follow some familiar patterns. This dish is no exception, although it originates in the Middle East and is referred to as a salad in the reference cook book Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey. The spices, in this case cumin and asafetida, are toasted in oil over reasonably high heat, the remaining ingredients are combined, and the whole thing gets simmered to combine the flavors. Not much could be simpler, especially if you already have the cooked legumes handy or are using canned ones. As I have probably mentioned, cooking with legumes is greatly facilitated by using a pressure cooker. Modern pressure cookers are a really safe and efficient way to cook. You deserve one.
One bite of this dish lets you know what makes it special. Hell, one sniff of the air wafting out of the house would tell you; it’s all about the cumin. It would be unusual to find a dish that is more aggressively spiced with cumin, and if you are not ready for the heat that comes along for the ride, it is surprising, especially since there is a chili in there for backup. This dish is not about balance….