Lentil & Vegetable Stew (Dhansaak)

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The spice blend:

1-inch piece cinnamon stick

6 green cardamom pods

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1/4 teaspoon whole cloves

The herb paste:

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves

3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 jalapeno (cored and seeded if you prefer a milder flavor), roughly chopped

3 dried red chiles

5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

The stew:

1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons canola oil or extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 red onions, finely diced + 1 red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste

1/4 pound chopped turnips

1/4 pound halved radishes

1 1/4 pounds chopped sweet potatoes or sugar pumpkin

2 1/2 cups mixed lentils, such as whole brown masoor dal, salmon-pink washed masoor dal, yellow split peas (channa dal)

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