Towards the beginning of Spring this year, my cousin invited us to her place in NYC for lunch. She is a hard core “Omnivorous Bong”, married to a South Indian “Strictly Vegetarian” hubby.
My cousin sis, who is also an extremely talented cook, a foodie herself, a food blogger and bags a degree in culinary arts from a prestigious NYC culinary school, very diligently roasted chicken for us with exotic herbs. Her hubby, my vegetarian BIL made a vegetarian lentil dish with veggies.
The moment we stepped into their apartment, we were blown over with a beautiful aroma of a food which made us hungrier and increased our appetites. When asked, my sis made a sad face and said, “yes, that’s R’s simple veggie dish’s aroma. I roasted a chicken with so many exotic herbs and it neither has smell nor any flavor!!!” :(
Surprisingly, when we sat down to eat lunch, the vegetarian lentil dish just disappeared within minutes after serving for its flavors and aroma. The roasted chicken with exotic herbs was hardly consumed.
The lentil dish that day, simply blew me away, a hard core non-vegetarian. It is from there, I got the inspiration to do something different with lentils apart from the regular Indian daals. I did an online research on how to bake lentils, what all can be put into it and make it more appealing to the kids as lentils are rich in proteins. Also, it is a tasty way to feed some veggies cooked in healthy herbs. Since my lil one loves everything cheesy, I chose to top my mixed lentil with cheese.
1 1/2 cups mixed lentils
1 bay leaf
5-6 sage leaves
3-4 strings thyme
3 pearl onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
3-4 large carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups of water
Salt and pepper as per taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Lay the washed lentils at the base of a baking tray. Add the water to it. Season with the bay leaf, salt, pepper, sage and thyme. Stir in onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in the carrots. Cover and continue to bake until the lentils and vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven a third time and sprinkle cheese over the top.
Bake, uncovered, until cheese has melted, about 5 more minutes.