Dal is one of the basics of Indian cooking. It’s easy to make and easy to digest — eat it with brown rice and you’ll get complete protein. Add some sautéed greens and you’ll have a cheap, nourishing meal. This simple dal recipe is my version of the classic and is extremely simple to make. It introduces one of the glories of South Asian cuisine, the use of spiced oil. Don’t be put off by the whole chili pods – they’re much less spicy than when they’re broken into flakes. This dal also uses that antioxidant powerhouse turmeric so you really have no excuse not to try it.
1. Put the lentils, water, ginger, and turmeric into a heavy pot with a lid. Bring to a boil, skimming off any scum that forms on top. Add salt to taste. Turn the heat down to low and cover.
2. Simmer until the lentils are soft and breaking up, about 25 to 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they thicken and soften, they will need stirring to stop them sticking to the bottom of the pan. When they are thick and creamy looking, remove from the heat, and discard the ginger. Cover and set aside.
3. Heat the ghee in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When it has completely melted, and starts to ripple, add the cumin seeds. Cook for 30 seconds. Add the garlic and chili pods. Cook stirring until the garlic colors and the chili pods have darkened to a deep red. Add the cilantro. It will spit and sizzle. Cook for a few seconds then tip the spiced oil over the lentils. Mix well and serve immediately with Brown Basmati Rice.
- 2 cups split red lentils picked over and washed well
- 4 cups water
- ½ inch ginger root peeled and quartered
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric
- Salt, to taste
For the spiced oil:
- 2 tablespoons ghee, butter (see Ann’s tips) or coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced through the root
- 1 to 2 whole dried red chilies (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)