Masoor Dal
October 18, 2007, 4:51 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen

I’m working a lot of overtime this week, so I haven’t been cooking. But I have a sweet partner, and if I get really lucky, he both cooks and delivers. Here’s the simple vegetarian dish he arrived with last night, much to my empty tummy’s delight.

This is a Bengali recipe for masoor dal. From what I understand reading around online, what makes it so is the lack of onion or garlic.

Also, there’s a great lentil resource at The Cook’s Thesaurus if you want to make substitutions or need to know alternate names because you can’t find what you’re looking for at the market.

Masoor Dal

2 cups masoor dal (pink, red, or orange split lentils)
1 tomato, sliced
1 tbsp tumeric
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red chili powder
5 cups water

1 tbsp butter
2 green chilies, sliced vertically
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing)
1/2 tsp salt or sugar (optional)
coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
plain yogurt

Combine the dal, tomato, salt, tumeric, and chili powder in a pressure cooker with the water. Following manufacturer’s directions, cook dal until the whistle goes off three times. Set pot aside and allow to cool.*

In a separate pan, melt butter and quick fry the chilies and cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, add the cooked dal and stir to mix well. At this point, you may add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and/or salt, depending on your taste preferences. Add asafoetida. Simmer over medium low heat for 7-8 minutes, then remove from heat.

Serve dal in a wide shallow bowl or plate with a spoonful of yogurt and coriander leaves sprinkled on top. Accompany with rice and naan, rotis, thick tortillas, or other warm flat bread. If you really want to go all out, also serve thinly cut potatoes fried in mustard oil. They add the perfect amount of crispness and grease to balance out the earthy and smooth texture of the dal.

*Alternate preparation: Presoak dal for one hour, then drain. Bring 5 cups fresh water to a boil in a large pot. Add dal, cover, and cook 15 minutes. Add tumeric, salt, and chili powder. Continue cooking, uncovered, until lentils are soft and the mixture is thickened, 10 to 15 minutes more.

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