I have made many dals, they are a key part of the vegan detox that I do a few times a year. To my understanding, dal is a staple in most Indian households and just like curry blends, each cook has his/her own variation with endless possibilities. Dal is usually made from yellow or red lentils seasoned with various spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric. Dal is a such a healthy, budget-friendly meal that I would encourage everyone to work dal into their weekly meal plans.
This version of Coconut-y Red Lentil Dal came from Food52. The only thing I changed about the recipe was that I used a 28 oz. can of drained, fire-roasted diced tomatoes in place of the fresh tomatoes and I did not have any curry leaves available.
This recipe comes together in a snap. It also freezes and reheats beautifully. One a happy note, everyone in the house enjoyed this dinner except for Maverick who opted for plain rice, naan and cucumbers. Oh well 4 out of 5 is certainly not bad.
Red Lentil Dal, from Food52
3 cups red lentils (masoor dal)
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 (28 oz.) can fire roasted tomatoes, drained
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. black or yellow mustard seeds
1/2 onion, finely chopped
15 to 20 fresh or frozen curry leaves (optional)
1 (14-oz) can coconut milk
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
In a large pot, combine the lentils, coarsely chopped onion, cayenne, ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Add 7 cups of water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils begin to break down. Stir in the tomatoes.
While the lentils cook, add the oil to a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and the mustard seeds. Cover the pan and wait briefly until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Then add the finely chopped onion and if using, the curry leaves. Cook this mixture, stirring often, until the onions are lightly browned.
Add the onion mixture to the lentils along with the coconut milk. Cook for another 15 minutes or so, until the flavors have melded and the mixture has thickened nicely. If desired, garnish each bowl with a bit of cilantro.
Serve dal with brown basmati rice, naan with lebni (fresh yogurt cheese) and fresh cucumber slices.