Cooking lentils can be time consuming but it’s really simple and with all the fiber and protein – it’s obviously really good for diets and healthy living. In Indian cooking, lentil curry or ‘Daal’ is a quintessential component of most meals – both for nutritional value and because it’s inexpensive.
Daal is the ultimate comfort food. It’s mildly spiced, goes with almost anything and is perfect fall-weather warmth. It takes a while to cook the lentils down, but you can also make this in a crock pot/ slow cooker, in a pressure cooker, or in a regular old pot. The recipe for regular stovetop cooking is below, I’ll post a slow cooker recipe soon.
- 1.5 cups of your favourite lentils – mung, masoor, green, black doesn’t matter
- 1 medium tomato – roughly diced
- Chopped cilantro (optional) as a garnish
- 1/4 tsp lime juice
- 1/4 tsp tumeric
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp garam masala
- Salt to taste (add less than you think at the lentil cooking stage – you can always add more later)
- 2-3 pinches chili powder or chili flakes
For the Tempering:
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 medium onion – finely sliced
- 1/4 tsp mustard seeds (or whole roasted cumin seeds)
- 1 dried red chili – broken in half (optional)
- 5-6 curry leaves (optional)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Rince the lentils well with water. In a large tupperware container, stick the washed lentils with more water (enough to more than cover the lentils) in the microwave for at least 5 minutes (or 8 minutes in the ‘speed defrost’ setting if you have one)
- In the meantime, chop the tomato and set 1 liter of water in a large pot to heat. Use a larger pot (say a 2 L pot) since lentils foam as they simmer and also expand as the whole thing cooks.
- Add the tomatoes to the pot.
- Add the lentils (without the microwave water) to the pot.
- Add the dry spices.
- Let it come to a full boil and reduce the heat to simmer.
- Simmer the lentils till they are of a soupy consistency – they should be mostly disintegrated (at least 20 minutes)
- Once the lentils are cooked, heat the olive oil in a small pot.
- Add the mustard or cumin seeds and let them sputter in the oil. Add the dried chili.
- Add the onions and fry them until they turn dark golden brown. They need to be just shy of burned to get the full flavour, trust me.
- When the onions are just about translucent, add the garlic and curry leaves.
- Once the onions are a nice, brown color, turn off the heat and add the whole mixture to the lentil pot. It’ll sizzle as it hits the lentils, which is pretty cool to see.
- Re-heat the lentils and mix the tempering in, give it one last boil and add the lime juice.
- Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with hot basmati rice or flatbreads.