For the past few months, Binks has decided to cut meat (save fish) from his diet. My job has then been to make sure he incorporates healthy proteins to ensure he is full and satisfied with what he eats.
The easiest, cheapest and tastiest way to do this?
Lentils. Specifically, dal curry.
There are several ways to prepare dal, but this is the absolute favorite for me. It’s comforting and flavorful. On top of it all, it packs a healthy punch.
I used to make this version often (given to me by my MIL) until I perfected this version. Now, it’s one of those dishes where I’m absolutely satisfied with the results and acts as a “go-to” recipe for me.
For this recipe, I use yellow split lentils as it cooks fairly quickly and does not need the overnight soak that other lentils typically require (i.e. urad dal). You can also use masoor dal (red lentils) as it cooks quickly, as well.
– 1 cup dal (I use yellow split lentils or toor dal)
– 2 cups water
– 1/4 tsp turmeric
– 1 tsp salt
– 3 tbsp olive oil
– 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to your taste – if unsure, start with a scant 1/4 tsp and go up if you want)
– 1/4 tsp cumin
– 1/4 tsp turmeric
– 1/2 tsp coriander
– 2 tsp ginger paste (you can also just grate fresh ginger)
– 2 serranos, diced (you can use jalapenos and/or adjust the amount per your taste)
– 1 small onion, diced
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 small tomatoes, diced
– big pinch of garam masala
– salt to taste
– 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
– 2 dry red chili, tear apart with your hands
– pinch of asafeotida
– 1/2 tsp garam masala
– 2 tbsp olive oil
1. Place 1 cup dal, 2 cups water, and 1/4 tsp turmeric into pot and boil until the dal until the dal is soft. Mash some of the dal in the pot. Add salt to the dal mix.
2. In a separate pan, heat oil over medium-high heat, and add cayenne pepper, cumin, turmeric, coriander and ginger paste (or grated ginger) and fry until the raw smell of the spices vanish, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the onion, garlic and serranos (or jalapenos or any other pepper you decided to use) and saute for another 4 minutes until the onions have browned a bit.
4. Add the tomato and cook for another 5 minutes until the tomatoes have softened and mixed with the spices and onion mix.
5. Add the dal mixture (water and all), and lower the heat to medium. Now, taste to see if you need more salt and add if you need. Once properly salted, add a pinch of garam masala to ‘finish it off’ and stir to incorporate. Cook the dal over medium heat for about 10 minutes. (At this point, if you want the consistency to be more watery or soupy, add boiled water, 1/4 cup at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. I prefer my dal a bit thicker so I just usually add 1/4 cup. Remember, as the dal cools, it thickens so add water accordingly.)
6. While the dal is cooking, in a separate pan, you prepare your tadka. Over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Once the oil has heated, add cumin seeds and let it sputter for approximately 1 minutes. Then add the dry red chili, asoafeotida, and 1/2 tsp garam masala. Cook until the raw smell of the spices is gone and the red chili peppers have toasted a bit.
7. Pour the tadka into the dal and stir.
8. Serve hot, preferably with rice.
I love the combination of this dal curry with brown rice. Talk about hearty and perfect for a fall night.