Simple Dal for Winter Nights

It’s February, and you just spent an hour driving home from work in a treacherous ice storm. You’re cold and tired, and there’s not much food in the house. What do you do?

Here’s what we did: ad libbed from an already-easy dal recipe. This requires a bit of time but very little effort, and the results are warming, comforting and satisfying (not to mention gluten-free and vegetarian). This is our version, but you can throw in some vegetables or whatever you’ve got around the house. This serves 2, with some leftovers.

Simple Dal

Throw into a pot:

1/2 lb lentils (use your favorite kind)

1 1/4 pint water

1 bay leaf

3 cloves garlic, broken up a bit but not chopped

about 1 tbsp chopped ginger

1 cinnamon stick

large pinch of turmeric

Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 35 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Then add:

Juice of 1 lemon

pinch of salt

pinch of pepper

pinch of cayenne

Simmer for 5 more minutes.

In a small pan, heat about 3 tbsp of ghee or vegetable oil. Add:

pinch of black cumin

pinch of regular cumin seeds

pinch of asafetida

Let it sizzle for a few seconds, then stir into the dal.

Serve with rice. That’s all there is to it. By the way, this process will leave your dal studded with tender, sweet pieces of garlic.

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8 Responses to “Simple Dal for Winter Nights”

  1. s0nali Says:

    i got an even simpler one for you. very warming.. good for winter nights. Measurements are relative – the most important thing is go easy on the haldi and you need the same amounts of cumin and kalonji without overdoing it.

    1/2 onion
    masoor dal (the pink kind) – about 1 cup
    haldi (turmeric) – about 1/4 tsp
    jeera (cumin) – 1/2 tsp
    kalonji (onion seed) – 1/2 tsp
    coriander leaves for garnish
    salt to taste
    oil for frying
    water for boiling – just about 1″ above level of masoor dal in pressure cooker

    Pressure cook masoor dal for 1-2 whistles with haldi and salt.
    Slice the onion into long strips. Heat oil in pan, fry jeera and onion 1 minute, add kalonji, keep frying till onions turn golden brown.

    Mix onion and spices into the dal and garnish with coriander leaves.

  2. therealpotato Says:

    Sonali, thank you– that sounds delicious! And we even have all of the ingredients already. Definitely going to try this one.

  3. Amit Says:

    Hey sarah, you should consider investing in a pressure cooker (I’m assuming you don’t have one, apologies if you do) – it’ll make cooking food much easier and faster, while saving on energy. It’s really convenient for cooking Indian food too.

  4. therealpotato Says:

    You know, we actually have one lying around. Joe and I were just talking today about breaking it out to make this recipe, and how it’s really a useful thing and we’ve totally been neglecting it. Pressure cooker post coming up!

  5. Mrs.K. Says:

    I combined your recipe with one I got online that called for spinach and coconut milk. I didn’t have some of the spices, so I added some curry powder, garam masala, chili powder…more cinnamon. It was so awesome! I couldn’t believe how easy it could be, even when I changed the recipes a bit. My husband isn’t big on coconut milk, so maybe next time I’ll skip it and just add a bit more water or broth. My house smelled absolutely amazing all night and the next day. I would not have thought of adding cinnamon if I hadn’t read your recipe as well..the other one didn’t call for any, and I think it adds a lot. Thanks!! Also, I served it with brown rice and chapati (a little heavy on the carbs, I suppose…but man, those chapati were good).

  6. therealpotato Says:

    Oh, that does sound good. That’s what I love about this sort of recipe– you can just play around with it and use whatever you’ve got in the house. I’m a big fan of coconut milk, personally!

  7. Recession Food: Emergency Recipes « The Real Potato. Says:

    […] times cheaper than at Whole Foods) as quickly as possible and buy at least a five-pound bag.   Here is a basic dal recipe, and there are infinite variations on this, so don’t fret if you don’t have all of the […]


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