Lentils are a staple in Indian cuisine. A meal that comprises of dal and rice is what signifies comfort food to most Indians. I love lentils in every form. I use lentils to make dal, soups, pancakes, chutney and use it in salads as well. A comfort meal for me is to have a steaming bowl of dal along with rice, some plain yogurt and poppadum’s. This is what I grew up eating and still go back to it every opportunity I get. This kind of food helps me reconnect to my roots and feel the warmth of mom’s love and care.
Whole masoor dal is a rustic and easy lentil dish that is made with basic ingredients and spices. If you are looking for a home-style snug meal this is the perfect recipe. The basic onion-tomato masala is added to boiled masoor dal and you have a healthy meal in a bowl in minutes. Serve it with rice or rotis or have it as a soup. The consistency of this dal is neither too thick nor thin but you can adjust that based on your preference.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
1 cup masoor dal Whole (uncooked)
5 cloves garlic peeled
1 inch ginger root
1 green chili (optional)
1 onion large
2 tomatoes medium
1 tbsp oil or ghee
1/4th tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp salt (adjust according to taste)
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
2 tbsps coriander fresh
Juice of half a lime
Wash and soak the whole masoor dal for 2-3 hours.
In a pressure cooker, place the soaked drained lentils, add 3 cups water and a tsp of salt. Pressure cook for two whistles. Note: If using a pan, boil the lentils with 4 cups of water for about 30 minutes. Cover the pan and cook on medium heat. Keep checking on the water level, and add more if required.
Crush the garlic, ginger and chilli (optional) to a paste. Finely chop the onion and tomatoes.
In a heavy bottomed pan, add oil. When the oil is hot, add the ginger-garlic-chilli paste and saute on low- medium flame for 30 seconds.
Add the finely chopped onions and a pinch of salt. Stir the mixture for a minute. Allow the onions to soften and become translucent. This will take around 4-5 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes to this. On a medium flame, cook until the tomatoes have turned pulpy and you see oil leave the sides of the mixture.
Once the tomato mixture is ready, add turmeric powder, coriander and cumin powder and salt according to taste. Stir for a minute or two on low heat.
Now add the cooked whole masoor dal along with the cooking liquid and bring to a simmer.
Turn off the heat and add the squeezed lime juice. Transfer the dal to a bowl.
Tadka/Seasoning: Heat 1 tbsp of ghee or oil in a small pan. When the oil is hot, add a pinch of asafoetida, ½ tsp of red chili powder and 1/2 tsp red chili powder. Pour this tadka/seasoning over the dal. Garnish with fresh coriander. (This step adds extra flavor and color to the dish, but you can skip it if you like. If you are skipping this step, add the red chili powder and garam masala to the tomatoes along with the other spices.
Note: Adjust the quantity of water based on your preference. If you want a soupy dal, add a cup of water at step 8 and boil once before proceeding.