I’ve been feeling like I’ve been eating too much meat lately, so I decided that dinner tonight would be a vegetarian curry meal. Tonight that consisted of a saag paneer (spinach with homemade fresh Indian cheese), a spicy coconut chutney, rice, and dal (a lentil stew). I promise to post the saag paneer recipe soon, it’s just that I’ve been winging it every time and always forget to write it down.
But, I did scribble down the dal. It’s an easy to make, simple and fulfilling dish, that’s also great by itself with either rice or roti. Lentils don’t have much flavor on their own, so you really have to help them out. This dal is fully seasoned with fresh curry leaves, ginger, chiles, onions, and garlic. The turmeric adds the rich golden color. Don’t be tempted to add the salt in the beginning or it will interfere with the softening of the lentils. Salt it up at the end.
The dahl will thicken slightly as it cools.
makes about 4 cups
serving suggestion: white rice or roti
1 1/4 cup red or yellow lentils
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large green or red chiles, finely chopped
1 1/4-inch piece ginger root, grated
4 cloves garlic, grated
2 medium tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
4 sprigs curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 cups water
salt to taste
- Pick over lentils for any stones and rinse thoroughly. Place in medium bowl, fill with water to cover by 1 inch and let sit about 15 minutes.
- In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, chiles, and ginger. Cook, stirring often, until onions have softened.
- Add garlic and cook till fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add tomatoes and curry leaves and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.
- Drain lentils and add to pot with turmeric and water. Bring to simmer and cook, uncovered, until lentils are tender and dahl has thickened to porridge like consistency, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Adjust heat level to keep at a simmer). Add salt to taste.