Eat Well: Easy as (Red Lentils and) Chocolate Pie

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
When Archer was born, I didn’t stay with Rebecca and Hal like I did at the births of their other children. Their apartment was so small I would have had to sleep in the bathtub shower. The day Archer was born, Larry and I, Rachel and David, drove up from San Diego, arriving minutes after his birth. We held and stared at him all day, but when I left that night I cried wishing I could hold him longer, be there, breathe him in. I remember feeling betrayed that no one had ever told me that the hardest thing about being a grandparent is the heartbreak of leaving behind babies you love more than life itself. I had only heard the very popular adage that “the best part about being a grandparent is you get to spoil them and love them and then return them to their parents.” What a bunch of baloney, I thought, aching from the pain of separation. With your own children, you don’t experience this ache until they leave your home or go away to college. But with your grandchildren, it’s continuous.

Larry and I went to LA a couple of Sundays ago to spend a day with Rebecca and family and Hal’s parents who were visiting from New York. It was the first time we had been there since my two-month stay. (They were at our house for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.) When I got home, I couldn’t get Bo and Rev out of my mind. Every time I closed my eyes to go to sleep, those two precious faces stared into my heart and I found my eyes tearing up just thinking about them. The next morning I spent way too much time flipping through pictures on Rebecca’s flickr and blog. Because, as it turns out, one day is not enough time to get your baby fill when you have twins. With a singleton, you hold, hug, play with and kiss one tummy all day, and even though it is hard to pull yourself away, you at least feel somewhat satisfied that you spent quality time with the baby. But with two, you spend half as much time with each baby and you return home unfulfilled and unsatisfied. And that isn’t even taking into consideration wanting to spend time with my other two precious grandchildren—getting enough Fable hugs, hearing about Archer’s ideas on world events, playing games, and doing puzzles.

I am sure you are wondering what any of this has to do with food. Well, at the last minute, I decided it would be a nice idea to bring dinner with us so Rebecca and Hal didn’t have to worry about feeding all of us. I didn’t have much time to cook on Saturday so I made my favorite one-pot easy dinner, red lentils, and for Archer and Fable, the 15 minute chocolate pie I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Since I’ve posted the lentil recipe here before, I typed “red lentils” into Rebecca’s search engine and found it, but it was buried in a post about rutabagas and cucumbers. “OH, NO,” I thought. “What if people can’t find it?” Since I love this recipe so much, I decided to reprint it here, giving it its own special place.

For those of you who have made this before, I apologize for posting it again. But for the rest of you who haven’t, I cannot express enough how delicious AND good for you this recipe is. It has become my absolutely favorite dinner to bring to a friend who is sick or to serve to the family. We eat it almost once a week and we never get tired of it. On the contrary, we CRAVE it. Plus it is inexpensive and you can whip it up in a half hour. (GGC Note: This is my favorite WWW recipe of ALL TIME, Kanye West.)

Make sure you use RED lentils, not the brown ones. In fact, you can substitute red lentils in any other of your favorite lentil recipes. They have a much creamier texture and I prefer the flavor.
So here it is, an encore performance of Red Lentils from Six Spices by Neeta Saluja. I always double or triple the recipe (it freezes great!) and serve it in bowls over basmati rice for a complete meal. Don’t substitute olive oil for the ghee (unless you are a vegan) or ground cumin for the whole cumin. Both of those give the dish its signature flavors.

Lal Dal (Red Lentils)

1 cup red lentils, washed
4 cups water
½ t turmeric powder
1 t salt
2 T ghee
½ t cumin seeds
1 green chili, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced (I use Anaheims)
1 small onion, chopped
½ t cayenne pepper
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 T fresh lemon juice
¼ cup fresh cilantro.

1. Place lentils in a medium-size saucepan with the water, turmeric powder, and salt. Bring to a boil on a high heat. Reduce heat as froth starts to build up. Remove froth from the surface as it builds up. When froth subsides, turn down heat to low. Partially cover and cook until they are soft and turn into a soup-like consistency, about 15-20 minutes.
2. In a small frying pan, heat ghee on medium heat. When hot, add cumin seeds to ghee, soon followed by the chilies and onions. Cook until onions become soft. Add chili powder and tomatoes. Cook for another 3-4 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. Add to lentils and simmer for another 10 minutes.

3. Add lemon juice and garnish with cilantro. Serve hot.


And because I have now mentioned it TWICE and failed to post the recipe, here is the recipe for the heavenly chocolate pie that is easy as pie to make. (Thanks to Larry’s mother for giving me this recipe!) For a gluten free version, buy gluten free chocolate sandwich cookies. (I use Kinnitoos or Mi-Del, both found in the gluten free section of your grocery store.)

Chocolate Mousse Pie

28 Joe-Joe’s cookies with vanilla bean filling
(or any other chocolate sandwich cookies)
¼ cup melted butter
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
14 oz can light coconut milk

1. Preheat oven to 350. Crush the cookies in food processor. Pulse cookies until fine crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until combined. Press the crumbs in an oven safe pie dish. Bake crust for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.

2. Melt chocolate on the stovetop on low, stirring well until completely smooth and melted. (Don’t scorch.) Pour coconut in blender and add the melted chocolate. Immediately blend until completely smooth (20-30 seconds).

3. Pour filling into crust and chill for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge. (Prep and cooking time: 15-20 minutes, not including cooling/chilling time.)
Serves 12

GGC Note #2: The whipped cream dollop (pictured above) is totally weird and lame because HAL ATE ALL THE WHIPPED CREAM and this was all that was left by the time I got to the canister. Womp womp.





Arnebya | 8:07 AM

I want to say how grateful I am to you for these recipes. I can get a cookbook anywhere, but tried and true recipes that a family uses regularly -- those are what I seek (and always find when you post).

Separately, um, yeah...never had a lentil in my life (nor heard of ghee; this is gonna be fun). But! I am willing to try since this photo is making me drool (that could also be related to not having dinner and only swiping a few Pringles before a meeting today).

Adrianne | 8:58 AM

YUM!! Can't wait to try both of these recipes! And I loved your notes on being a grandma. I have often wondered if it was difficult for my mom (and more specifically my MIL who is doing this grandma thing for the first time) to leave our baby girl. I know nothing compares to your own babies, but I can't imagine how hard that is!

Thanks for the recipes!

Motherhood on the Rocks | 9:21 AM

Can you come be my personal chef? :)

Unknown | 10:53 AM

I need to say that I LOVE your recipes! I do not cook from recipes often because I come from a cooking family. That means I just make stuff- I get ideas and add stuff, etc etc. But I get bored, crave other flavors and need advice. Your black-eyed pea recipe= WONDERFULLLLL!
Also, you are the best grandma. I didn't luck out with an overly maternal mother. So with my two children, it's a source of disappointment that she doesn't spend much time with them. You inspire me when I read your loving, sweet posts about your grandbabies! I even got my husband to read some because it warms my heart. I hope I am such a good grandma, if I get the chance.

glenda | 11:03 AM

WWW you are AMAZING!

SJ | 11:11 AM

This looks really yummy, but I'm sorry to say I don't know what ghee is.

Jenn | 1:56 PM

I made that pie recipe soon after finding it here, for my daughter's birthday treat since we are grain and dairy free. I dream of that pie. I am tempted to make that pie again. I made it with a pecan and dried cherry crust. I am thinking I will have to make it for valentines day. . .for myself because the husband doesn't need any.

linuxgrl | 3:47 PM

I have to say, I'm always intimidated about making indian food because of the unusual ingredients, but your post inspired me to give it a try again! And it is absolutely WONDERFUL. I went to an Indian grocery and bought the ghee and spices and they were way cheaper than the local grocery.

It's absolutely delicious, and destined to be a family favorite. The ghee smells amazing.

Thanks so much!!!

Wendy Woolf | 5:49 PM

SJ...Ghee is clarified butter.

Susan | 8:11 PM

Oh man. Now I commence the experimenting to make a no-bake crust for that pie. I never thought that an ovenless kitchen would make life so hard!

Wendy Woolf | 9:04 PM's a no bake chocolate crust:

Elizabeth :: Bébé Suisse | 1:13 AM

I love lentils but have never tried them in an Indian recipe. This just may be the inspiration I need - the recipe looks simple and delicious! As for the pie, well ... the lentils can be the pre-atonement. Thanks for sharing WWW!

Anonymous | 6:25 AM

The pie looks delish. I was curious just how coconutty the final product tastes?

Deb and Mike | 6:59 AM

Dear Wendy, You expressed perfectly how I feel as a grandmother to two adorable granddaughters (second one only four weeks old)! May I quote you on Facebook to my friends? Those paragraphs you wrote are absolute perfection...I'd crawl on my hands and knees to get to those little girls ~ 70 miles away! Thank you for stating it so clearly ~

Wendy Woolf | 7:03 AM

Anon....VERY SLIGHT coconut flavor.

Wendy Woolf | 7:04 AM

Deb and Mike...Thank you for your kind comment. Yes you can quote me! :) We grandma's are in a special club, that is for sure.

Anonymous | 10:09 AM

love your post - am another who loves to hear how you revel in your grandchildren. This must be a beginner question as no one else has asked... what temp do I bake the crust at??


Wendy Woolf | 10:54 AM's in the recipe...350 for 5 minutes.

Anonymous | 11:17 AM

so it is! I did read and reread several times and never saw it. sorry! also suffering extreme sleep deprivation these days! thanks... can´t wait to make it.

jessicapea | 7:07 PM

Made the dahl for lunch today - beautiful!! Thank you :) I did substitute the the for coconut oil to make it vegan, and chillies like you describe are hard to come by in New Zealand so I had to use dried ones, but still very very tasty :) Cant wait to try the pie, thanks so much for the lovely recipes.

Trysha | 8:16 PM

Not gonna lie, I thought the red lentils were going to be in the chocolate pie! Whew!

After seeing this my husband has requested this pie for his birthday tomorrow. :)

Anonymous | 4:24 AM

I read this post last night (I live in Melbourne, Australia) and made it straight away as I had some tomatoes to use up! I also substituted coconut oil for the ghee because I didn't have any to hand, and dried chilli flakes for the chilli plus some cayenne. Great easy recipe, thank you WWW.

Anonymous | 3:18 PM

Oh, heavens! I hope you don't mind me saying so, but this pie is THE SHIT. It's just stupid easy, too, for a non-baker like me.

donaleen | 7:24 PM

Made the lentil dish tonight. WOW. Really good. Thank you.

Sarah | 4:12 PM

I'm going to try both these recipes, and 'hope' that my 10 yr old son will eat the lentils, I know I will love it!

Are the lentils soaked already? or do you used tinned ones? thanks!

Also, but other cookies do you mean ex. oreos? or just the wafer part?

Hope you get to snuggle with your grandbabies soon!

Rachel | 4:26 PM

Yum! Made the dal tonight for dinner. big hit all around. I can't wait to make the pie!

Anonymous | 5:46 PM

I have never commented, but I made that chocolate pie for company this weekend, and I CANNOT believe how good it is. I just can't stop eating it!

Liz | 7:24 AM

Just wanted to say I made both these things for dinner last night and they were a huge hit. The lentils are definitely going in my rotation for dinners! Thanks for posting!

Andrea | 8:05 AM

The pie is amazing,it will now be my go to for any dessert I need to bring for dinner parties.I'm going to try the lentils this week.

Christina @busybmommy | 2:04 PM

No but seriously I made the pie for a dinner party I hosted Saturday, and my guests practically put me on their shoulders and cheered "Hooray!"

On another note...couldn't find the ghee at Trader Joe's...suggestions?

RSilvies | 5:53 PM

So I am on maternity leave with my 7 week old and am getting back to cooking. WOW! I made this pie the other day and I could not stop eating it! Tonight was lentils and they were oh, so delicious paired with the fresh samosas I picked up at the Indian grocer.

Thank you!

Kacey B | 5:39 PM

Great recipe, going to try tonight! Just a note, though - red lentils can't actually be substituted in many recipes because they fall apart, unlike brown or green. Brown & green lentils are meatier and hold their shape. Red lentils are definitely nutritious, but the least nutritious of the varieties.

Jeanette | 9:24 PM

My family and I went vegetarian in October and since then I've been trying to build up an arsenal of yummy, healthy recipes. My hubby didn't think he'd like this one but we both LOVED it! So tasty & satisfying! We also made the tortilla soup the other day and it was divine, Thank you!!

Jeanette | 9:28 PM

Btw, for those of you asking where to get the Ghee, whole foods has it and of course Indian Markets do as well.

Shelley Senai | 1:45 PM

Wendy!! Love your recipes. Just made this though and it is WAY spicy! In the ingredients you say 1/2 t cayenne pepper but in the recipe you say chili powder. I went with cayenne but now I'm wondering if you meant chili powder in the ingredients?

Wendy Woolf | 3:05 PM

Shelly....yes it is cayenne. Hmm...I've never had that problem. What type of peppers did you use? I have a feeling that your peppers were spicy....sometimes the Anaheims are spicy. Next time you can ask your grocer which peppers are for sure mild and buy those and then add the cayenne pepper to taste. 1/2 teaspoon isn't normally very spicy but everyone's tastes are different so you could add a little at a time until it is perfect for you. Hope that helps!

unfounddoor | 10:47 AM

I just made this again for dinner for my, my guy and our 8 month old son, and I wanted to say THANK YOU!
I've never been a "cook" and I'm trying to learn now from pretty much first principles, and this recipe is fast becoming my go-to. We all love it, and it makes me feel like I might be able to crack this Mum thing after all.