I believe that as a home cook, there are three key words I try to aim for when it comes to a recipe: cheap, healthy, and delicious. Sometimes things are just delicious, sometimes cheap or healthy and delicious (always being delicious is a requirement). Sometimes the three meet and make a magical trifecta of perfection.
This dish is one of those. Also added to the list? Easy.
What’s not to love?
This dal is creamy, with just enough spice to warm you up, but not enough that even a small child should have issues with it. It takes a surprisingly short amount of time to make compared to beans, and this recipe makes a huge batch, so your cooking is pretty much done for at least a few days.
One of the other great things about this dish is its versatility. It’s great over rice, excellent when used as a dip for naan or roti, and so cozy when eaten as a soup, which is what I did this week. Add a swirl of yogurt and a little fresh cilantro and you’ve got a perfect winter dinner.
Red lentil dal (adapted from this recipe)
- 3 cups red lentils
- 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes (fire roasted is always a plus)
- 7 cups water
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 handfuls of chopped cilantro
- 1 14oz can coconut milk
In a large pot or dutch oven (always my first choice), combine the lentils, chopped onion, can of tomatoes with the juice, cayenne, ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, or until the lentils begin to break down.
In a small frying pan over medium high heat, add the oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the cumin seeds and the mustard seeds. Cover the pan and wait until you can hear the seeds begin to pop. Add the diced onion and cook until lightly browned, stirring often.
Add the seeds and onion mixture to the lentils, along with the chopped cilantro and coconut milk. Stir to combine, and let cook for another 10 minutes or so to let the flavors blend together. Taste and add salt, if necessary.
Serve, and stay warm and happy.