Monday, March 2, 2009


There are as many ways to make dahl as there are Indian cooks! Some methods are quite elaborate, while others are simplified a bit. I’ve combined a few recipes and methods to come up with one that can be made quickly and easily.

Serve it with Basmati rice, seasoned with peppercorns, allspice, and whole cloves. Also, serve some Mint Chutney on the side! Even though each of these elements is easy to make, you could find yourself using a lot of pans and having to tend to many dishes at the same time. It might be easier to serve this for the first time if you prepared some of the dishes, like the rice and chutney, ahead of time.

To speed up the cooking of the lentils, it’s helpful to boil the water, pour it over them in a bowl, and let them soak all day or overnight. Ghee is clarified butter, and it’s the fat of choice for Indian cooking, but you can substitute vegetable oil if you don’t have time to make the real thing. This spicy dish will taste just fine either way!


1 T ghee or vegetable oil
1/2 t cayenne pepper
Onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 c yellow lentils
2 c water
1/2 t salt
1/2 t tumeric

Pre-soak the lentils in a bowl if you can. Discard that water, rinse, and add 2 fresh cups to the bowl. In a large sauce pan, saute the onions and garlic with the cayenne until the vegetables are softened, but not brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the lentils and water with the salt and turmeric to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently. When the lentils begin to soften, you can mash them with a wooden spoon or even run them through a food processor if desired. Stir the onion and garlic mixture into the lentils and heat through before serving. Serve with basmati rice and mint chutney.

Other combinations to try for Dahl:
Pink or red lentils with cumin, pepper, and chili powder
Yellow split peas with garlic, ginger, and cinnamon
Red lentil curry

Image of lentils: Wikimedia Commons

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