I love me some daal. With rice, crunchy sourdough, chapati, quinoa, millet or just as is, like a bowl of soup. It can be my lunch or dinner, and if you are my sister—breakfast. Aside from the taste, the nostalgia, the comfort factor, I love the variety of daals I can make by simply changing a few ingredients or my cooking process. From adjusting the water content, the type or blend of lentils, the cook time, or the spices results in a new daal every time.
Cooking lentils is like a blank canvas waiting to be splashed with some vibrant colors. From Mondrian to Pollack, I choose the palette and then it’s all about the technique and having fun!
Daal means lentils—but daal is also the name of a dish. With the large variety of lentils available, comes a gizzilion types of daals. Depending on the person’s region, what the cook feels like making, the type of lentils, the dietery restrictions, the spices, or the cooking technique—will inform the flavor of the daal. You never know what to expect when someone says they are cooking up daal. It can be thick and creamy, or thin and watery. Cooked with an array of vegetables, meats or be simple like the recipe I am sharing today.
Masoor daal (split and peeled) or red lentils, as they are commonly referred to in most markets, are my go to lentils. They cook really fast, are tasty, easy to digest and they work well with an array of spices from cumin to rosemary.
This recipe started as on of those ‘this is what I have in my pantry’ dishes and now it is one of my staple daal recipes. I like making a big pot, and then enjoying it as a soup, with my favorite cabbage salad, greens, roasted beets and/or some grains. It can easily transform from a bowl of daal to a simple feast.
Simply Delicious Tangy Masoor Daal in 30 Minutes
Dosha: VPK Season: Fall, Winter, Early Spring Qualities: Moist, Warm, Soft Tastes: Sweet, Salty, Sour, Pungent, Astringent, Bitter What you need: a 3-4 quart heavy bottom pot, a small pot or frying pan or hand blender
Bring to boil:
- 1 cup masoor peeled+split aka red lentils (soaked overnight or for 20 mins)
- 4 ½ – 5 cups water
Hot Oil Infusion/Masala:
- 1 1/2 T coconut oil or ghee
- 1 T cumin seeds
- 1 large garlic clove thinly sliced or minced
- 1 medium ripe tomato finely diced
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 T grated ginger (or paste)
- 1/3 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
- 2-3 T lemon juice
- 1-2 T finely chopped cilantro with the stems
Step 1: Drain the water from the soaking pulses and them to a 3-4 quart pot with 4 ½ cups of water. Bring them to a boil, on high heat, uncovered. With a slotted spoon remove any foam that rises to the top (this will help support digestion). Once the foam has been removed, adjust the heat levels to keep the daal simmering without over boiling while the pot is covered.
Step 2. While the daal is coming to a boil, prepare the ingredients for the masala. Once the foam has been removed and the daal is simmering. Heat the ghee or coconut oil in a small pot on medium heat. When the oil is warm, add the cumin seeds. Let the seeds lightly toast up about 20 seconds or so. Add the garlic and cook until golden. Then add the finely chopped tomatoes, grated ginger, salt, coriander and turmeric powders. Give it a good stir, cover and let simmer, until the tomatoes can easily be broken down into a nice sauce, paste like mixture. Adjust the temperature if needed. About 7-10 minutes.
Step 3. Once the masala is ready, add it to the pot of simmering daal. Prior to adding it, hand blend the daal, if you want a smoother and creamier texture. Otherwise, add the tomato mixture and continue to cook. The daal is ready when the masoor has dissolved completely and all the flavors have melded together. Total time is about 30 minutes depending on altitude.
Step 4. Taste for salt and then turn off the stove. Add the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve and enjoy.
Tips: If the daal is too thin, when you add the masala, simmer with the lid removed. If it’s too thick for, add a little bit of hot water. I prefer a thinner daal, as when serving it with a grain it makes the meal less heavy. The water tends to separate from this daal, when it sits for awhile, give it a good stir prior to serving.
- with basmati Rice (good for vata and pitta constitutions)
- as a light dinner (good for kapha constitutions)
- with your favorite grain, a crunchy salad, and some cooked greens for lunch
- with some roasted beets, mango pickle, or sweet potatoes
Notes: After speaking with a few friends, I made a slight adjustment to this recipe—mainly changing the cooking process. I think this method will help result in the expected outcome , especially for the novice daal cook. There are many methods to making daal, I use both the older version and this version, do what works best for you.