(yields approximately 2.5 cups)

1 cup red split lentils, rinsed

2 cups water

½ teaspoon turmeric

2-3 tbsp canola oil

½ teaspoon white cumin seeds

1 large shallot, finely chopped

1 thai green chili, finely chopped

½ teaspoon minced ginger

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

pinch cayenne pepper

4-5 garlic cloves

1 tomato, seeded and chopped

1/3 cup raw cashews, toasted

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring lentils with water and turmeric up to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and cook for 10 minutes uncovered. Watch that its not boiling too hard as it can easily boil over. Skim off any scum as it comes to the top during this period and then cover and cook another 15 to 20 minutes, until lentils are completely soft and can be mashed. Set aside to cool.
  2. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and cumin seeds. When they start to sputter (after a minute or so), add shallot, chili, and ginger and sautee for 3 to 4 minutes, until shallots are translucent. Add spices and garlic and sautee for another 30 seconds to a minute, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes break down and can be mashed. Set aside to cool.
  3. Transfer the lentils and the shallot mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Add raw cashews, a squeeze of lemon juice, and season with salt. Process until the mixture is uniform. Adjust seasoning (it can take quite a bit of salt) and lemon juice to taste.
  4. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until completely cooled.
  5. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro and crusty bread or crudité.