Dal is a staple in all parts of India, served thick over rice or in a bowl as a soup. There are so many different varieties, all made with somewhat different ingredients. There are many types of lentils (also called dal) – whole lentils, split lentils, and lentils which have the husk or skin removed.
Lentils are a low-calorie source of plant-based protein (they have a protein concentration of approximately 25%). One-half cup serving of cooked lentils provides 9 grams of protein. They also are a good source of iron, fiber and a good source of Vitamin B.
This recipe uses split pigeon peas, or toor lentils – a basic, every day dal. Feel free to adjust the taste to suit your menu – eliminate the tomatoes, add more lemon juice – most of the ingredients are optional.
Soaking the lentils will help cut down the cooking time, though using a pressure cooker makes it even quicker.
1 cup toor dal, (split pigeon peas)
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 green chilies, slit or 1 dry red chiili
1- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves for garnish
Prepare the lentils: Rinse dal until the water is clear. If you have the time, soak the dal for about 1 hour.
Drain the soaked dal, add 3 cups water and cook the toor dal in a pressure cooker for about 10 minutes (unsoaked for 14 minutes). Or cook in a saucepan with approximately 3 cups water, until soft for about 30 minutes.
If you prefer a smoother consistency, blend with an immersion blender, whisk or potato masher.
Tempering: In a medium saucepan, heat the oil. Add the mustard and cumin seeds- as soon as they start popping, mix in the red or green chilies and onion. Cook for 3- 4 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent and then add in the garlic and tomatoes. Stir for a few minutes- next add in turmeric and salt.
Stir in the cooked dal and about 1-2 cups of water, depending on the consistency you prefer. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the tomato is soft and dal is well combined.
Mix in the lemon juice and garnish with cilantro.