In Indian cooking, lentils are referred to as dal and usually cooked to a consistency thicker than a thick soup and eaten over rice.
By Chitra Agrawal
- 1 cup large green lentils or whole masoor dal (can use combo of both)
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon oil or ghee
- 3 cups water for dal; 6 cups water for soup
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cardamom pods
- 2 cloves
- ⅓ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 inch ginger, grated
- 2 green chilies, chopped fine (can use jalapeño)
- 1 large onion, chopped, with a few slices for garnish of soup later
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 plum tomato, diced
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder (optional)
- ½ red bell pepper, large chop
- 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon jaggery or brown sugar
- few squeezes of lemon
- cilantro for garnishing
- salt to taste
- Wash lentils with water, drain and set aside. Get 3 cups of water or 6 cups of water ready on the side.
- In a pot under medium heat, put 1 teaspoon of oil. When heated, put in the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cardamom pods, cloves and just coat with oil. Immediately throw in the lentils and mix up well. Add the water and mix again. There may be some scum or foam, which you should skim off the top and throw. Once the foam stops, add in the ginger, turmeric, chilies and salt to taste. Bring the pot to a boil and then to a simmer. The lentils should cook in about 30 minutes. While cooking, you can choose to add more water, depending on what consistency you are going for. Turn off the heat. (At this point, I taste the lentils to see if it's hot enough for my taste. If not, I usually add a little red chili powder in the next step of cooking.)
- In a separate sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil at medium heat. Add in the chopped onions and cook until translucent. Mix in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add in the tomatoes and give a good stir. Mix in the cumin powder and garam masala (can add some chili powder at this point if you want some more heat) and cook mixture until tomatoes start to break down. Add in the red bell pepper and mushroom with some salt to taste and cook for about 5 minutes or until soft. Turn off heat and pour contents over the lentils.
- Turn the heat on under the lentils to medium. Add a teaspoon of the sugar and make sure the ingredients are mixed all together. Heat lentils for a few minutes, adding more water to get to the consistency you want. Turn off the heat and add a few squeezes of lemon and mix in fresh chopped cilantro to your liking.
- For serving, ladle into bowls for soup and spoon over rice for dal. Garnish with some cilantro, raw onion slices and a dollop of yogurt.
Chitra writes the food blog, The ABCD's of Cooking, which chronicles her adventures cooking American Born Confused Desi recipes. When she is not recipe blogging, Chitra can be found hosting her online cooking show and a supper club featuring Indian-inspired, vegetarian cuisine. She also teaches cooking classes and sells Indian street foods (sometimes yummy Indian tacos!) at events and artisanal markets in Brooklyn. Her cooking has appeared in the New York Times Dining Journal and she is a contributor to The Huffington Post, Gojee, The Daily Meal and Brooklyn Based.