Thursday, 31 March 2011

Red Lentil Dahl

In keeping with the love of lentils, today's post is all about spicing them up, Indian style. Dahl is kind of like a lentil stew with any mix of spices and liquid you like. This version has just enough spice without heat, is delicious hot or cold, inexpensive to make, and whips up in no time. I make this about once a week. Sometimes twice.

The original recipe calls for toasting whole spices, which I'm sure makes this dish amazing. Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients - you can get everything from the grocery store. I have a well-stocked spice cabinet, but almost all my spices are ground and from the grocery store. I've made adjustments and tested this dish multiple times to get it just right. You know what I've found? It's a little different every time, but always amazing, so don't worry too much about exact measurements. If there's something you don't like, just omit it. Simple as that.

Red Lentil Dahl (adapted from Eden Kitchen)


1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ¼ cup red lentils
4 cups vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup chopped cilantro (for garnish)
Plain yogurt or sour cream (for garnish)


Toast the spices (not the cinnamon) in a large skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from skillet, cool, and then crush into a fine powder with the cinnamon. I do this old-school, with a mortar and pestle. It also works with a spice grinder, but is a lot more fun the old-fashioned way.

Heat the oil in the same large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions for 3-4 min or until translucent. Add garlic and ginger and sauté another 3-4 minutes. Add spices and salt and sauté 3-4 minutes more.

Add lentils and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and then lower heat and simmer uncovered for 20 min.

Add lime juice and some water if it looks too thick. Simmer 5 minutes more or until lentils are tender.

Garnish with cilantro and some plain yogurt or sour cream.

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