As any Indian food lovers will know, daal, a lentil soup dish, is popular throughout all of India, and in fact far beyond too; in Nepal, Pakistan, the West Indies, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, daal is a staple dish of many people, thanks to its high protein content and low cost.
Of course, with such a wide range of cultures enjoying such a dish, it’s to be expected that there are as many variations of daal as there are countries enjoying it. Daal actually means “lentils”, so most daal variations will be called [something] daal: Tarka daal, Panchratna daal, Lobiya daal, etc.
Masoor daal is a red lentil daal that’s popular for its relatively quick cooking time and for the ease of its making. It’s popular with me and my household due to the fact that it’s utterly delicious, as well as being very healthy, filling and perfect for when it’s cold outside, or when you’re just not feeling your best. This, to me, is pure comfort food, and it will help you get over an illness with all those lovely spices.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 large chunk fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 bay leaves
1 cup dried red lentils, soaked for 1 hour and rinsed
4 cups vegetable stock
2 tomatoes, diced
the juice of 1 lime
salt to taste
In a large pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat then add in the onion, garlic and grated ginger
Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent
Add in the cumin, mustard seeds, turmeric, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and bay leaves and stir for a minute or so, then add in the red lentils and the vegetable stock
Bring to the boil then turn down the heat to a high simmer
Cook for around 10 minutes, then add in the tomatoes
Cook for another 15 minutes, being sure to add more water if necessary; daal should be the same consistency as the picture above
Remove from the heat, stir in the lime juice, coriander and salt, then serve immediately (with a piece of leftover coriander to garnish)
This is an incredibly simple recipe to make, and in fact friends of mine who’ve always struggled with cooking have found daal recipes incredibly forgiving as dishes to start with! Some people like to blend their daal before they serve, but I much prefer to leave it in its natural state, which is pretty mushy and gorgeous anyway. The turmeric should bring a bright yellow colour to this dish, and the tomatoes will bring this down to a vibrant orange.
You can serve daal on its own, as I prefer, or with rice and / or naan as it is served in India. It’s up to you; that’s the beauty of daal!