This gently flavored, soothing dish counts as Indian comfort food, and it's always a big hit with children. The slow cooker imparts a nuttiness as well as a very smooth texture. It's one of my all-time favorites, adapted from Anupy Singla's The Indian Slow Cooker (Surrey 2010). Try cutting Indian flatbread into strips and letting kids use them as dippers (consider leaving out the chilies and chili powder for children). The ingredients can be found in an Indian market. The recipe is intended for a 5-quart or larger slow cooker but is easily halved and made in a 3.5-quart slow cooker.
Makes 5 to 10 servings
3 cups dried chana dhal (a type of yellow pea), split and skinned, rinsed thoroughly
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 green Thai, serrano or cayenne chilies, stems removed, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
9 cups water
Put all of the ingredients into the slow cooker. Cook on high for 8 hours.
After cooking, pulse with an immersion blender until smooth. If you prefer a bit of chunkiness, reserve 1 cup, blend the rest, and add the reserved cup back into the mixture.
Eat with hot basmati rice or Indian flatbread, such as roti or naan, as a main course. Spicy pickle is also delicious on the side.