Indian Spiced Lentil Salad

This is a salad I started making at least 7 years ago back when Trader Joes’s had the vacuum packed precooked black beluga lentils…. I miss those days! They were so easy! We went to a wonderful market named Cookbook in Echo Park this week which is where I found these organic American grown Black Beluga Lentils so I bought a few bags! The combination of finely chopped vegetables, herbs, tender lentils, and flavorful dressing is very refreshing and delicious. If you have trouble digesting beans and legumes read this recipe in detail regarding preparation and be sure to read the Health Tip at the bottom. I link to several helpful articles that talk about legumes, digestion, and food combining that will help you understand digestion and the effects of specific foods on the digestive system.

 Salad Ingredients

1 cup Black Beluga Lentils or French Green Lentils (preferably soaked for 1-3 days*)

2 cups organic cherry tomatoes halved

4 medium organic Persian cucumbers finely diced

8 scallions (green onions) thinly sliced

1 organic red bell pepper finely diced

1 cup chopped organic cilantro leaves

Dressing Ingredients:

½ cup fresh lime juice

½ teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon Garam Masala

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 serrano peppers finely minced (mine were pretty mild, start with one and taste as you go)

1 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon coriander

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup pure extra virgin olive oil

Directions

*If soaking: 1-3 days ahead-place the lentils in a bowl with warm water and and let soak. Keep them in a warm spot in your kitchen like on top of the stove, soaking the lentils makes them easier to digest. 

Rinse the lentils very well and add them to a pot filled with 3-4 cups of salted water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until tender but not mushy. Be sure not to over cook the lentils because they need to stay whole and firm in the salad. Drain and let cool.

Add the remaining salad ingredients and cooled lentils to a large bowl and gently stir to combine

Add the dried spices - coriander, curry powder, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and garam masala to a small heavy bottomed skillet and heat over medium low heat until lightly toasted. Be very careful to not let them burn, it will only take a minute to toast them and make the flavors really pop.

Combine dressing ingredients and spices in a seperate bowl and mix well. Pour dressing over salad, stir gently, allow to sit for 15-30 minutes, taste and season with salt and pepper, stir before serving.

Health Tip: Legumes can be very hard to digest and can cause digestive distress (you know the song...beans, beans, the musical fruit...)   Here are a few techniques you can use to make them more digestible (use any or all):  Soak beans and lentils for a few days in warm water prior to cooking, chew very thoroughly, cook the beans in broth with a piece of Kombu Seaweed, cook for a long time with low heat, cook in broth, and spout them prior to cooking. Beans contain physic acid and sugars which make them hard to digest and they contain both protein and carbohydrates which many people believe are hard to digest together. Read more about the theory of proper food combining here. I try to follow food combining principles as much as possible and when I do I really feel much better and experience no digestive discomfort.  Here is a fantastic article that goes into more detail about why beans are hard to digest and how to cook them so they will be digested more easily in your body.