A beautiful red lentil dhal flavoured with a spicy tomato masala.
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This is my chicken soup when I'm feeling under the weather, my staple when I don't know what else to cook, my cuddle blanket when I'm feeling sorry for myself and my tonic when I've indulged a little too much the night before. It's a poor man's main dish and a king's side dish - it's the simple humble masoor di dhal.
It forms a huge part of so many Indian peoples diets because it's cheap and is a great source of protein for the vast number of vegetarians. As children, we didn't know the names of all the different lentils so we would call this yellow dhal (even though it's made with red lentils) and that's what my children call it too.
Cooked with whole cumin seeds in a tomato based masala finished with crispy onions and fresh coriander.
200g red lentils, washed
900ml water (approx.)
1 tsp of salt
1 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 tsp turmeric
1 chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp fenugreek leaves
1 tsp of garam masala
1 or 2 whole chillies
Handful of coriander, chopped
Place lentils in a pan with the salt, cover with the water and bring to the boil.
Remove the froth, reduce the heat and put the lid on the pan - leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Check the lentils are cooked by squeezing them between your fingers. Once soft remove from the heat.
In a frying pan heat the oil or butter. Using a fork pierce the whole chillies and add to the pan with a bay leaf and the cumin seeds.
When the seeds sizzle, remove the chilli and set to one side for your garnish.
Add the onion and garlic and fry until lightly browned. Reduce the heat and add the tomatoes, ginger, turmeric, fenugreek and the chopped chilli. Gently let the ingredients cook down for about 10 minutes to make a thick masala paste.
Add a ladle full of the lentils (dhal) to the masala paste in the frying pan and stir together, then empty all the contents back into the pan with the lentils and stir. It should have the consistency of a thick soup but if it's too thick just add a little boiling water and remove from the heat. If you prefer it thicker just leave it on the heat to reduce until you get the consistency you want.
Check the seasoning and add a little salt if required. Stir in the garam masala, coriander and top with the whole chillies to serve.