Meatless Monday: Indian Dhal

March 21, 2010

So many readers confessed their love for naan in this post, I thought I’d share a recipe that used naan as a delivery vehicle. Gives you a good excuse to eat a buttload of naan, eh?

Dhal (lentil curry) is a South Indian staple; many South Indians are vegetarians, and dhal is a primary source of protein–it’s not uncommon to see dhal on the table at every meal.

Traditional dhals are often soupy, and served with rice. My husband doesn’t like his dhal like that, and frankly, neither do I.

So welcome to TKW’s Bastardized Dhal. This dhal is thicker, and served with my beloved naan, for scooping. This recipe is spicy, so if you have delicate tongues, I suggest you halve the amount of chiles involved. Either way, I’d recommend serving the dhal with a cooling raita.

I love raita–the refreshing blend of cucumbers and yogurt provide the perfect counterpoint to Indian spices. And for the record, it’s delicious with naan, too. I think I’m the poster child for Eat More Naan!

Both recipes are adapted (eg: Bastardized) from the cookbook Curried Favors by Maya Kaimal MacMillan. I highly recommend this cookbook; it’s by far my favorite of the Indian ones I own (you can get it on A lot of Indian cookbooks are very fussy and require you to toast your own spices and grind them yourself. This one does not, and while there are some time-consuming recipes, there are a lot of recipes so simple that dinner’s on the table in about 30 minutes.

Spicy Dhal with Tomatoes
adapted from Curried Favors by Maya Kaimal MacMillan
serves 6-8

1 cup masoor dhal (dried red lentils…you can get these at Whole Foods) or yellow thool dal, rinsed
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2-3 green chiles (serrano, Thai or jalapeno), split lengthwise

1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned, drained

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

In a medium saucepan, bring dhal, water and turmeric to a boil; turn down heat, cover and let simmer for 20-30 minutes (you will need only 20 minutes if you use red lentils, more if you use yellow). Watch for spilling. (Remove cover to let bubbles subside if spilling occurs).

While dhal cooks, heat oil, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and crushed red pepper in a covered, heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When mustard seeds start to pop, turn the heat down to medium and add onion, garlic and green chiles and cook for 5 minutes until onion is soft.

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 3-5 minutes.

When dhal is cooked and tender, mash with a potato masher or the back of a spoon to break up roughly (if you use red lentils, you probably won’t have to do this. Red lentils fall apart quite easily). Add tomato and spice mixture (you can throw the green chiles out at this point or choose to leave them in, whichever you prefer). Stir in salt and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes, adding more water for a thinner consistency, if desired.

Adjust seasonings, garnish with cilantro.

adapted from Curried Favors by Maya Kaimal Macmillan
serves 8

2 medium hothouse (English) cucumbers, seeded and coarsely grated or finely chopped (you can peel the cucumber if it suits you)
1 cup white onion, grated or very finely chopped
2 cups plain greek 2% milk yogurt, such as Fage
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Set aside for 20 minutes before serving so flavors can blend and mixture thins out a little. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

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