Lentils With Cumin and Asafetida

"This is a wonderful Indian lentil side dish. Asafetida has a very strong, musky smell that many people find unappealing. Store it in an airtight container to prevent it from contaminating your other spices, and if you really don't like the smell, keep it in the freezer--I left it in my car for a little while and everything in the car smelled like it afterward. Despite the strange smell, I have not yet met anyone who dislikes the flavor once it's prepared! This recipe comes from a cookbook called Madhur Jaffrey's Spice Kitchen. All the ingredients should be available at any Indian grocery store."
photo by Edana photo by Edana
photo by Edana
Ready In:
1hr 5mins


  • 1 cup red and yellow split lentils, mixed, washed and drained
  • 2 12 cups water
  • 12 teaspoon turmeric
  • 34 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • generous pinch of ground asafoetida powder
  • 12 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 2 -5 dried hot red chili peppers


  • Place the lentils, water and turmeric in small pot on medium heat. Stir and bring to a simmer, but do not allow the water to boil over.
  • Cover with the lid slightly ajar and turn the heat to low. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes or until tender.
  • Add the salt and stir. Leave the lentils covered over very low heat.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the asafetida, swirl the pan a few times, and immediately add the cumin seeds. Allow the seeds to sizzle for about 10 seconds.
  • Add the chili peppers. They will puff up and turn very dark on the bottom. As soon as this happens, take the pan off the heat and pour the entire contents into the lentils.
  • Cover the pot immediately, without stirring, and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Stir. Keep on heat until any remaining water has boiled off and the dish has reached the desired thickness.
  • Serve and enjoy!

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