I made dal last night with green lentils, and finally found a recipe
that I really like. This version of the Indian dish has a thick, porridge
consistency, which was nice on a cool evening, but the consistency can
easily be made thinner by adding more water and a few more spices. My
green lentils looked beautiful in the pot, so I suspect your red ones
would look pretty, too. You may want to omit the tumeric, as it seems to
be added for color, and the red might stand out nicely on its on (on the
other hand, a little tumeric might make them nice and orange!) I think
the reason why I like this recipe over others that I have tried is that
it used freshly grated ginger, which made the dish quite fragrant. Along
with the green lentils, I made a bright yellow cauliflower potato curry,
and a simple cucumber raita, and served it over brown rice. Quite a
Note: The original recipe called for cooking the cumin seeds in 2 TBL
of oil first-- this is clearly unacceptable. I modified the recipe to
add the cumin seeds to the onions when frying in a little water, and
this should suffice.
from "Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant",
Indian chapter by Linda Dickenson
1 1/2 c. red or brown lentils, yellow or green split peas, or
split, hulled mung beans
4 cups water
2 dried chiles, whole (I used mild ones; next time I'll add 3 or 4)
1/4 tsp turmeric (for coloring, as far as I can tell)
1/2 tsp salt (optional, as always)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (I used ground cumin; it tastes somewhat different)
1 c. chopped onion (I used a red one)
1 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger root (do not omit-- makes the dish, IMHO)
1 TBL fresh lemon juice (I used bottled)
1/2-1 tsp garam masala (go light, and add more at the table, if desired)
salt to taste
Wash the lentils, peas, or beans in several changes of cold water. In a
medium pot, cover them with the water and add the whole dried chiles,
turmeric, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring
often, until very tender. This will take about 30 minutes for red lentils,
45 minutes for peas, or an hour or more for mung beans (note: check every
10 minutes or so, as the time can vary widely, depending on the size, type,
and age of the legumes-- mine took about an hour, but were a little old).
It may be necessary to add more water to prevent sticking, but only add
1/2 cup at a time, because the final consistency should be fairly thick.
Use a heat diffuser of necessary.
When the lentils are almost cooked, heat a little water or broth in a
nonstick pan, and stir in the onion, cumin seeds and fresh ginger, and
cook until onions are soft and translucent and a little brown, about 10
minutes. use just enough water to keep the onions and seeds from sticking
to the pan and burning-- too much water may keep the onions from
When the lentils are tender, remove and discard the chiles. Stir in the
onion mixture, lemon juice, garam masala, and salt to taste. Be careful
when adding the garam masala, as too much may add a slightly bitter
aftertaste to the dish. Serve, passing additional garam masala to sprinkle
on top, if desired.
Spinach dal: Add 4 cups of chopped, fresh spinach to onions after they
have sauteed for abouut 5 minutes, and cook for 5 minutes more.
Tomato dal: Add 1 cup chopped tomatoes to the onions after they have
sauteed for abouut 5 minutes, and cook for 5 minutes more.
Spinach-tomato dal: Add both spinach and tomatoes.