Yellow Daal (Lentils)
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Lentils form an essential part of Indian cuisine due to the variety of the grain that grows in India. This is a high-protein, nutritious food, that is easy to cook and has many digestive attributes. Yellow Daal is specially my favorite because the preparation is packed with nutrition and healing herbs, which when eaten on a daily basis, leads to better overall health. This thick soup-like dish is a staple in most Indian homes, and is cooked in many different ways across geographic regions. In the state of Gujarat, in West India, jaggery or molasses are added to the daal to give it a savory-sweet flavor. North-Indians make it spicy with a heavy proportion of Ghee. My version is the type my mother makes at home. It’s mildly spicy, tangy and does wonders for me on those freezing Minnesota winter evenings. Serves 2.
1. 3/4 cup Toor daal (English: Pigeon Pea Gram). It looks like this:
2. 1/4 cup Orange Masoor Daal (English: Red split lentils). It looks like this:
3. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4. 1.5 Medium size tomatoes – washed & chopped
5. 1 medium size onion – chopped
6. 1 Garlic pod – thinly sliced
7. 1 small green chili – thinly sliced
8. 1 teaspoon Ginger & Garlic paste (50:50 ratio) – ready paste available at any Indian store or International food aisle of any supermarket
9. 2 curry leaves (Leave out if not easily available)
10. 3/4 teaspoon Salt
11. A handful of washed and chopped fresh coriander / cilantro leaves
12. A healthy spritz of lemon juice
Spices You’ll need: (Kohinoor or Swad brands are the best! 🙂 )
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- A pinch of Fenugreek seeds (These are bitter so use with constraint. It adds a pleasant frangrance to the food and has digestive and healing properties. Yeah!)
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
(Spices 5 & 6 above are available as a blend in Indian grocery stores. The packaging may have ‘Dhania – Jeera‘ powder written on it.)
- Wash the 2 daals together, drain and soak for 25 minutes in 2 cups of water. Keep 1.5 more cups of water aside and ready. (2 if you want the daal liquidy)
- I make Daal in a pressure cooker because it’s quick and easy. If you don’t have one, use any non-stick pot with a lid and a heavy bottom.
- Start with heating oil in the pot / pressure cooker. As is with all my recipes, cook on a medium flame / stove setting.
- Once the oil is heated, add the cumin seeds and the mustard seeds.
- As soon as they begin to crackle and splutter, add the chopped garlic, chilies and curry leaves.
- Immediately add the chopped onion. Let the onion fry till they become transparent and slightly brown.
- Once this is achieved, add the ginger-garlic paste and let it fry and turn brown, while you stir it all together with the onions.
- Now add the chopped tomatoes and let them cook till they get a little tender.
- Add all the dry spices now, along with salt, and mix really well. Let the whole mixture cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Finally, add the soaked daal and the extra water. Mix well with all ingredients.
- If using a pressure cooker – cover the lid and let cook on medium heat for 3 whistles.
- If using a pot – cover the lid and let cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes, or till the lentils are very soft and disintegrate easily. While it cooks, add more water if you feel the daal is getting dry.
- Once the lentils are cooked, take it off the heat. Now, take an egg-beater and gently swirl it around the daal to blend all the ingredients together roughly.
- Add a healthy spritz of freshly squeezed lemon juice and garnish with coriander leaves.
Have it as a warm soup (excellent for an upset tummy / cold) or with Rice or Rotis (Indian bread).