Serious Eats: Recipes
Red Lentils with Paprika and Ajwain
Both Indian and Ethiopian cooks use ajwain when making lentils; this recipe is something of a hodgepodge of those two traditions. Ajwain's thymol content provides an aromatic lift while its other flavors create a distinctive curry-like background. When combined with rich, full-bodied paprika, it elevates the humble lentil to a warm, earthy, and complex bowl of comfort food. You can alter the proportion of sweet to hot paprika according to your tastes and heat tolerance, but all sweet paprika may be too bland. The amount of paprika may also seem pretty high, but lentils can take plenty of spice, and it is the main flavor- and color-component of this recipe. If you don't have any niter kibbeh lying around, a few dashes of garam masala, or dare I say it—curry powder—will do in a pinch.