Green lentils cooked on slow heat over 24 hours and seasoned with home cooked fragrant onion and tomato paste
My first experience with cooking on AGA was 5 years ago. I had no previous experience with cooking in AGA and the even the thought of cooking made me nervous. I learnt initial understanding of AGA from “The AGA Book” written by Mary Berry. This book was given by my friends and colleagues as a leaving gift and pretty soon became a blessing in my kitchen. While using the basic principles of AGA from Mary’s book I adapted Indian cooking on AGA and have been trying to master since. To my surprise, much of my cooking not only looks better but also taste better. There is no recipe book on Indian Cooking in AGA, so my hope is that many of my readers who are AGA owners will find it useful to explore Indian cooking in AGA and if I am too lucky, Mary will try herself too.
So here comes the first of the series of AGA recipes that I have managed to master. I am going to start with lentils using all varieties of lentils. In most UK households we mostly use yellow and red lentils that are easily available in supermarkets but trust me, there is more to lentils than just the yellow and red lentils. For those who do not have AGA, I will be mention the variation for Pressure regulated whistled pressure cooker that will make it easy for you to adapt depending on the kind of appliance you are using.
So talking about lentils, each variety of lentils comes in three variations. One as whole with skin/hull, one as each grain split in two with skin/hull and last one as each grain split in two without skin/hull. For very obvious reasons the ones with skin is the healthier version with more fibre content due to their skin. The cooking time for lentil reduces from whole lentils to split lentils with skin and split lentils without skin respectively. Some may argue that when lentils as whole single grain are called pulses, legumes or beans and when split they become lentils. For cooking purposes the terminology is not important. Either way when cooked, they are referred as daal in Indian cooking. They are ideal for vegan and gluten free diets. Recently we are experiencing the daal being referred as lentil soup served on most of the restaurant menus.
In this recipe I am using whole green lentils also known as Green Gram, Green Moong Beans, Mudga or Haricot Mungo. This recipe belongs to North Indian Cuisine and cooked in most of the households for evening meal in winters. Why in winter? A good question! I have been asking myself for a number of years. With my experience over the years, it has more warmth to it compared to the two split varieties.
- Green Moong Letils/Beans – 150 gm
- Water – 1.75 Litres
- Salt 2 tsp or to taste
- Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp or to taste depending on the heat of chilli powder
- Turmeric – 1 tsp
- Garam Masala – ½ tsp (optional)
- Chopped Fresh Coriander Leaves – one handful for garnish
Ingredients for Onion and Tomato Paste
- Vegetable Oil – 2 tbsp
- Cumin Seeds – ½ tsp
- Onion – 1 medium
- Tomato – 1 Large
- Double Concentrate tomato puree – 1tsp
- Green Chilli – 1 small
- Finely chopped Ginger – ½ tsp
- Finely chopped – ½ tsp
- Lemon Juice – 1tbsp
Method for AGA:
- Add green lentil beans in a large vessel of at least 2 litres capacity and wash a few times under a running tap water.
- Add water, salt, red chilli powder and turmeric.
- Let the mix boil on boiling plate on AGA for 2 minutes.
- Transfer the vessel to simmering oven for 24 hours.
- While the mix is simmering, the onion and tomato seasoning can be prepared in advanced. I generally make a big batch and keep it in the refrigerator up to 5 days or you can freeze it in ice cube tray for up to a month.
Preparation and Method for Seasoning:
- Chop onion, green chilli, ginger, and garlic to fine pieces.
- Puree tomato or alternatively chop in fine pieces and keep aside.
- Chop Coriander leaves and keep aside.
- Heat oil in a frying pan on simmering plate.
- Add cumin seeds and stir-fry for 10 seconds until you can smell its earthy aroma.
- Add finely chopped onions, ginger and garlic to the oil.
- Stir-fry until onions are dark brown in colour.
- Add Fresh tomato puree, tomato concentrate puree and lemon juice, and continue to stir until all water from the tomatoes have evaporated and the mix has silky shiny appearance with oil separating on the sides and top surface.
- Take the frying pan off the heat and add garam masala.
- Give it another stir and add to the cooked lentils.
- Transfer the vessel in Roasting oven for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let it rest for at-least half an hour.
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
- Serve immediately while it is hot with rice or Indian flat bread or serve as a soup.
- Alternatively you can cool it and freeze it for later.
Method for Hob and Pressure Regulated Pressure cooker:
- Add green lentil beans in a large vessel of at least 2.5 litres capacity and wash a few times under a running water tap.
- Add water, salt, red chilli powder and turmeric and transfer the vessel to a hob on high heat.
- Once the mix starts to boil, close the pressure cooker lid.
- Once pressure cooker achieved full pressure (Some pressure cookers have a whistle on full pressure), reduce the heat to minimum to maintain the pressure and let it pressure cook for an hour.
- Switch off the hob and let the pressure die down itself.
- Once all pressure is lost open the cooker, give it a mix and add cooked onion and tomato mix.
Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot.