What’s better on a cold winter’s day than a hot bowl of soup for dinner? Not a whole lot, except maybe a bowl of hot dal. There are many variations of this creamy lentil dish throughout India, with each region having their own recipes and methods. The recipe below is somewhat of a mish-mash of a few recipes, accounting for what I had on hand. This dish is great with basmati rice or a hearty naan, roti or other bread.
This recipe makes enough for 4 or 2 with some leftovers.
2 cups yellow or green lentils (or a combination of both). Soak these overnight. If you don’t have time, soak for an hour or two while you prepare the other ingredients.
3-4 large carrots, diced into small pieces
1 large yellow onion, diced into small pieces
2 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, diced into small pieces
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (heat-averse people should skip this ingredient)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
5 cups water
1 avocado (optional – not a traditional ingredient)
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and some salt. Stir for a few minutes, until the onion becomes translucent. Add all the spices and stir occasionally for the next 5 minutes to bring out their flavor. Drain the lentils from their water and add them and the carrots and the rest of the salt to the pot. Add the water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let the dal simmer for the next hour and ten minute to hour and a half. If the water is gone after an hour and ten minutes and you have a nice, thick consistency, try a spoonful and decide if the carrots and lentils are soft enough to be eaten. If they’re not, add another half cup of water and let simmer for another 20 minutes.
Although it’s in no way traditional, I love putting a sliced avocado on top of my dal. I also use making dal as an excuse to buy some Indian beer – Kingfisher is my favorite.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.