I’ve probably mentioned my love of lentils before! I never had much interest in them before I went to India and realized how many different types of lentils there are and how many delicious ways they can be prepared. Then I read Guns Germs and Steel and learned to love lentils (“pulses”) even more.
In India, lentil daal is served with almost every single meal. And even the poorest families can afford daal and rice for most meals. It’s prepared in a million different and delicious ways and as this lovely DAAL DIRECTORY shows you, there are so many beautiful types of letils!
Here is a recipe for an outrageously delicious and healthy daal that you can eat on its own, or over rice, or served with other dishes, or as my boyfriend ate it–as a topping for his burger (it was very spicy).
Once you learn this recipe, you can make it over and over–you wont even need to think about it anymore –it’ll be like instinct! Just like it is for all my wonderful Indian pseudo-grandmothers!
What you’ll need
NOTE: I used channa daal, and they took a LONG time to cook, select your daal carefully, for this recipe I would recommend toor daal, moong daal, or red lentils. Use the handy daal directory I linked above! The channa daal was also really good but be prepared to let it simmer (unattended) for at least an hour. A different lentil like the red lentils take much less time to soften.
- About 1 cup of lentils (look online to see how long you should soak your lentils in water before cooking. The channa daal took about an hour, but red lentils will just need a rinse under cold water)
- A thumb of ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Whatever “seeds” you have (I used mustard seeds, fennel seeds and cumin seeds)
- Spices: turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, curry powder and a bit of cinnamon
- Some oil (and butter if you like)
- 1-3 tiny green chilies depending on how spicy you want it
- One large chopped onion (I used half of a red and half of a yellow)
- Some tomato paste
- At least 3 cups of water (or steeped black tea)
- Fresh coriander and lime
Now I’m a purist and I really just wanted my daal to be lentils. But if you want to make this an even healthier and more robust dish, you can add any other veggies you like (tomatoes, corn, peas, cauliflower etc.) Even I added a few chopped cherry tomatoes that were in my fridge.
What to do:
Start out by making a paste of the ginger, garlic, all the spices and a bit of oil.
In a deep skillet, warm up some oil (and butter if you want) over medium heat. When the oil heats up, toss in the seeds.
When the seeds start to sputter and pop, add in the chopped onions and chopped chili peppers. Scoop in the curry paste and stir everything together. Let the onions cook until they soften…
When the onions are soft pour in the lentils, whatever other veggies you’re using and cover with water. Squeeze in some globs of tomato paste, bring the water to a boil, lower the heat, stir and simmer…
Keep everything simmering on a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are very soft.
Serve this spicy goodness over rice with a squeeze of lime and some fresh coriander…
The boyf wanted me to take a pic of his plate as well, and say something like “for all your meat-eaters out there!”. He had his daal as a burger topping…