I just made this recipe, which I found at The Post Punk Kitchen, and it was so delicious I decided to add the recipe here right away.

I’ve only made a few kinds of dal so far, but it’s really brilliant.  If you’re unfamiliar with the term “dal,”  it refers both to a type of split legume — like chana dal (chickpeas), moong dal (mung beans), and the type in this recipe, masoor dal (red lentils) — and to a stew made from these beans.  This stew is a very common dish in Indian cooking, with as many variations as there are regional and personal preferences, and it’s very nutritious and a good source of protein.  Split legumes cook a million times faster than other dried beans, essentially falling apart after half an hour of boiling and becoming a thick gravy (think split pea soup).  This makes them an ideal base for endless combinations of ingredients.

I did make a couple of small changes to the original recipe:  because I like a thick, chunky dal, I added a bunch of very small cauliflower and broccoli florets, a diced red bell pepper, and a couple of cups of curly kale.  I also added a pinch of salt after adding the tomatoes.  I kept the spices the same, but this would also be nice with a pinch of amchoor (mango powder).  Oh, and I also soaked the lentils for half an hour before cooking them.  This went great over cumin rice.

It’s worth it to take the five minutes to toast the whole spices.  Trust me!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp peanut oil (I used vegetable oil)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated (or minced)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 C dried red lentils
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups water
  • 5 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 C chopped, lightly-packed cilantro (I used 1/2 C parsley)
  • optional ingredients: I added 1/2 C broccoli & 1 C cauliflower, chopped into tiny florets, 1 diced red bell pepper, and about 3 cups of roughly-chopped kale

Spices:

  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 2 dried red chilies (I had to substitute 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric

This recipe, with my additions, made a BIG pot of dal.  Be prepared to freeze some unless you’re feeding a big family.

Instructions:

  • Pick over the lentils, then rinse them well in a mesh sieve, place in a bowl, and cover with water.  Set aside while you prepare the other vegetables.
  • Toast the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, and whole cloves in a skillet, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.  Let them cool for a few minutes, then grind together with the chilies, cinnamon, and turmeric.
  • Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium to medium-high heat.  When hot, add the onion and saute for 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and saute 5 minutes.
  • Add the spices and salt, and saute 5 minutes.
  • Add 4 cups of water and stir.
  • Drain the lentils and add them, and the tomato paste.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  (I simmered 10 minutes, then added the cauliflower and broccoli, then got it back to a simmer for 10 more minutes)
  • Add the lime juice, tomatoes, and cilantro (or parsley).  (This is where I also added the pinch of salt, the red bell pepper, and the kale.)  Stir well, and add water as necessary if it’s too thick.
  • Simmer for 10 more minutes, or until lentils are completely tender.

So good!

This is a riff on this recipe I found at Redchillies for Moong Dal and Vegetables with Chole Masala.  All I was able to find at the store was Chole Chaat Masala, which isn’t the same thing, but it does share some of the tangy/sour qualities of chole masala, with ingredients like amchoor (mango powder), ginger, and black salt.  It ended up working fabulously, and this has become my favorite recipe to make with moong dal.

Moong dal is a very small yellow split pea, graced in English with the unfortunate name of Mung Beans.  They’re easily found in Indian/Asian markets, and are nutritious, tasty and versatile. Because they’re so small, it doesn’t take too much time to soak and cook them.  Make sure you put the moong dal in a mesh sieve and rinse really well before soaking and cooking, until the water runs clear.

(It’s important to note that moong dal, while being a yellow split pea, is not the same thing as “yellow split peas” that you can easily find with the dried beans at your everyday supermarket.  Moong dal is smaller, with a more intense color.)

After rinsing the moong dal, put them in a bowl and cover with water, and let soak for about 30 minutes.  Then put them in a pot with enough water to cover, and cook on a simmer for 30-50 minutes, being sure to add more water as needed so that they stay covered.  When done, they should be soft and mushy and easily mashed.  This dal will comprise the bulk of the sauce in the dish.

You can play around with the amount and type of vegetables used.  I’ve used as little as 1 cup and as much as 2.5 cups.  For veggies I’ve used kale, cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, potatoes, chard (not all at once) – if it makes a good curry, it could probably find a home in this dish.

Ingredients:

  • Veggies of choice, cut/chopped medium-small, 1-2 cups
  • 3/4 C moong dal, soaked and cooked
  • 3/4 C  onion, diced or sliced, your preference
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp grated or minced fresh ginger (try to use fresh, it tastes much better in this dish than ground)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp chili powder, according to your taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp Chole Chaat Masala
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Parsley for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  • Cook the dal as mentioned above, mash it until smooth, and set aside.
  • Cook the veggies separately, by steaming or briefly sauteeing until tender.
  • In a good-sized saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  When hot, add the cumin seeds, fry for a minute until the seeds have cracked and become fragrant.
  • Add onion and sweat until translucent.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt; stir well and cook for another minute.
  • Add chili powder and chaat masala and stir well.  If the mixture is very dry, add a little bit more oil.
  • Add the vegetables and a little water.
  • Add the dal, stir well, and season to taste (a little salt, a little more masala, whatever you like).
  • Simmer the mixture for a few more minutes, until all the ingredients are well-blended.
  • Garnish with parsley.  Serve with cumin rice and a spoonful of raita.  Yum!