red lentil dal

It’s getting cold and lentils are the best winter food to warm you up, I think. I like the red ones (well, orange, in fact, which turn yellow when cooked) as they have a rather mild taste and are very quick to prepare. While they are very good for soup, as often done in different varieties in the Middle East, I also like them as an (accompanying or main) dish, like it is done in India and Pakistan.


red lentils, 150g
curcuma, 1 tsp
cumin (powder), 1 tsp
small dried chilis, 5
fresh ginger root, 2cm
cumin seeds, 1 tsp
fresh coriander leaves, 1 tsp
vegetable oil, 1 Tsp


Rinse the lentils in cold water until the water is clear, remove stones or seeds, if any. Put them in a large pot and add about 500ml of water. Bring to boil, then let them simmer at low heat. At the beginning, white foam will form on top. Remove it with a spoon, this will make the lentils easier to digest (as the cumin and ginger added later). Add curcuma, cumin powder and the chilis (if you don’t have the small dried ones, use fresh ones cut in tiny rings). Cut the ginger in slices and add. Let the lentils cook until they have the desired texture – I prefer them to be rather soft, which will take about twenty to thirty minutes. Remove the chili and the ginger, and salt according to taste. In a small sauce pan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds until they begin to sizzle. Stir the mixture into the lentils and add the coriander leaves.

This is the basic version. If you like something fancier, add fresh, ripe mango, cut in pieces. Hokkaido cucumber, cut in cubes, goes well with red lentils as well. Just add them at the beginning and cook with the lentils.

The quantity mentioned here is for about two persons or four if served with meat and rice.


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