I’m a sucker for a hybrid. Two influences are almost always more interesting than one, especially when the intermingling is naturally complimentary. And, although you may be sick of the word ‘fusion’, mashing up global cuisines often yields delicious results. French-Vietnamese, Chino-Spanish, Mongolian Braai? (Okay, I made the last one up).
I’d like to think my New England Dal is one such example. Backstory: my husband is Indian, so I’ve learned to make at least a handful of staple dishes that I can trot out when he has cravings – although mine are invariably a bit off from the traditional version, or unique to my upbringing or sensibilities in one way or another.
Dal, a cornerstone of the Indian diet, is basically stewed lentils with spices and seasoning usually served with rice or roti. Warming, comforting, nutritious, simple. Sometime during one polar vortexian New York winter I decided to combine the flavor profile of traditional dal with a New England kale and sausage stew. Though the addition of meat might be sacrilege for many dal-eaters, the finished dish is tasty, hearty and healthy – perfect for a cozy winter night with a big goblet of red wine and a space heater to burn your toes.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion chopped
4 cloves garlic chopped
2 teaspoons fresh ginger
4 Thai chilis
1 cup red split lentils
3 cups water
3-6 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander
2 heaping handfuls of kale
2-4 fresh, organic chicken sausages
Cilantro or parsley for garnish
In a large pot combine the onion, garlic and ginger and olive oil over medium heat. Sautee until tender, then add the lentils, water, salt, cumin, turmeric and coriander. Set the burner to high until the water boils, then add the chilis and turn down to low and let simmer. After about 20 minutes, check to see if lentils are soft. When they are almost done, add 2 heaping handfuls of kale and continue cooking, covered. Meanwhile, butterfly and panfry 2 chicken sausage links (ask your butcher for fresh, organic chicken sausage, if they have it). When the kale dal is ready to serve, spoon into a broad, shallow bowl and place the butterflied sausage links on top. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley.