Spices and Seasons – Red Lentils with Rhubarb



IMG_0904Rhubarb grows in abandon, in the Kashmir region of India. A region nestled in the Himalayan valley, it showcases a lot of spring produce that we tend to find here in our lohud world, kohlrabi and kale to name a few things. Rhubarb is used for pickles and chutneys like the one I had shared with you a while ago, and it is used for lentils to impart a gentle hint of tang. I realize that for most people, we are thinking of the grill but save this recipe for a rainy day because we do need those to ensure that our lawns and gardens stay fresh, lush and green.


Irrespective of the season, there is always some lentils made in an Indian home, not everyday, but often enough. It is Indian comfort food. This is a great post in the times about the nuances of lentils and how to work with them aptly describing them as the soul of Indian cooking. Adding a touch of tartness to lentils particularly during the summer months is very characteristic of Indian cooking, this recipe hit the spot even for mom.

Now, to get the true flavors in this recipe, you do need to use the asafetida that I have mentioned in the recipe. If you cannot get a hold of it, you can leave it out, you will have some difference in the taste, but not enough to leave the dish totally out of your lentil lexicon.


Kashmiri Red Lentils with Rhubarb

A simple red lentil dish inspired by a recipe from Kashmir.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes


¾ cup red lentils

2 cups of finely chopped rhubarb

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon oil

1teaspoon black mustard seeds

½ teaspoon of asafetida

1 dried red chili

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro or mint

Method of Preparation

Place the lentils, rhubarb, salt, ginger, turmeric and red cayenne pepper in a simmering pot and cook the lentils for about 45 minutes, until very soft and the rhubarb has practically dissolved into the water. If you have a pressure cooker and wish to use it, this can be cooked under pressure in 8 to 10 minutes.

Cool for about 10 minutes and mix the mix with a heavy wooden spoon until fairly smooth.

In a separate small skillet, heat the oil and add in the black mustard seeds and cook until the mustard seeds begin to pop, quickly add in the asafetida and red chili and cook for 10 to 15 seconds. Pour the spiced oil over the lentils.

Stir lightly. Serve garnished with cilantro and mint.



About Author

Rinku Bhattacharya, the Spices & Seasons blogger, is a daytime financial professional, who spends the rest of her time immersed in food. Rinku is the author of the blog, Spice Chronicles (formerly,Cooking in Westchester), where she shares her life experiences, original recipes that combine Indian spices with produce from her backyard and local farmers markets. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past six years. Rinku is also the author of the Bengali Five Spice Chronicles an award winning (Gourmand 2013) cookbook, that highlights and offers many simple Indian recipes off the beaten path. Her second cookbook, Spices and Seasons, uses the approach in this column and marries Indian flavors with local and seasonal produce. Rinku can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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