Navratan, meaning nine gems or jewels – traditionally hold important cultural significance and only the purest gems were chosen to create this auspicious piece of jewellery, usually in the form of a pendant.
This led to the creation of the famous Navratan Korma, which is a vegetarian dish made using nine different vegetables, and it originates from the Mughal times in India. It is said that one of the Kings had been advised to eat more vegetables when he had been taken ill, but he abhorred the sight of the leafy greens. The royal chef then created the dish, Navratan Korma to entice the King into eating vegetables, albeit they were covered in heavy cream, nuts and butter. This dish is one of the vegetarian favourites till today.
Inspired by the nine gems, I decided to use lentils as my gems as they have a colourful, flawless texture that remind me of little jewels.
I love playing with lentils and my pantry is always full of a variety of dried lentils and beans. For this recipe, I just took a little fistful of all the dried lentils, peas and beans that I had in my pantry. Feel free to use a combination of any type that you may have sitting in the pantry.
The more colourful they are, the better!
First, wash the lentils and beans under running water and soak them in a bowl for about an hour or so. This just helps soften the grains a little before they start cooking.
The Nine Jeweled Lentils Dhal
- 1 fist each of nine types of dried lentils – any colour, peas and beans
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 green chillies, finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp paprika (kashmiri red chili powder)
- 3 tsp garam masala
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- Soak the dried lentils in about 2 inches of water for an hour. Drain the water.
- Heat the lentils in a pot with 4 inches of water above the lentils. Add the turmeric powder and boil the lentils until they are all fully cooked through and soft.
- Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. As soon as they start to sizzle and change in colour, add the onions and the green chillies. Cook until the onions have softened and are golden in colour.
- Add the ginger paste and cook for a minute before adding the tomatoes.
- Cook until the tomatoes are very soft and you can see the oil separating from the tomato onion mixture. About 5-6 minutes.
- Add the spices to the tomato mixture and cook for 30 seconds before adding everything to the cooked lentils.
- Let the dhal cook for a further few minutes to allow the flavours to blend in well, before serving.
- Stir in the butter and the cilantro before serving with some rice and salad.
I made my rice with almonds, cinnamon, black cardamom, black peppercorns, green raisins and chicken stock.
I made a quick raita to accompany the dhal, by sprinkling dried mint, cilantro, paprika, coriander powder and cumin powder on top.
I made a quick tomato, onions, green pepper salad by just sprinkling some salt, pepper, mango powder on top along with some lime juice and sprinkling some fresh cilantro on top for a garnish.