South-Indian Red Lentils (Masoor Dal)

Masoor dal recipe on www.foodess.com

This dish is simple, hearty. To me it has always been exotic; to my husband it is comfort and familiarity. To me it is is special; to my husband it is a staple.

My mother-in-law was cooking for us constantly during the two months she spent here after the birth of our second baby, Everett (who is now 3 months old). She is a fabulous cook, though when you compliment anything she makes, she says, “Oh Jenn, this is so simple!”.

If breakfasting on steaming, aromatic lentils and freshly rolled whole wheat flatbreads for is “simple”, I think we north americans have our priorities seriously wrong.

Although these lentils require far more effort than most Canadians put into their breakfast (open cereal box, pour), Amma does have a point about it being simple. Seriously. The easiest, most flavourful hands-on 5 minutes you can hope for.

You see, the lentils cook on their own in water until soft. When they’ve simmered to tenderness, you quickly fry mustard seeds, curry leaves, ginger, chiles, and tomatoes in a separate saucepan. Then you scrape them into the cooked lentils and stir. Done.

I was skeptical at first about this method – I mean, I’m used to flavour building in layers. But this is a tried-and-true Indian cooking technique (maybe unique to South India). The mixture you add at the end is called a tarka – aromatics quickly fried in hot oil, stirred into the dish at the last minute. This simple step is enough to flavour a huge pot of lentils.

The amount of salt needed will vary, depending on how much water evaporated.  I used 2 1/2 tsp and it was perfect, but start with less and add more to taste.  Also, this amount of water yields quite soupy lentils.  You could actually eat it as a soup, if you like.  If you prefer it thicker and more curry-like, cook the lentils in 3 cups of water instead, adding more as needed while they cook.  If you do this, start with 1 tsp salt and work your way up.

Asafoetida is optional, but is authentic and very pronounced in flavour.  I love it.  You can snatch some up on Amazon for $4.00.  Curry leaves, too, for that matter!

Serve the lentils for breakfast, lunch or dinner with rice, chapati (which are whole wheat tortillas) or slurp it up with a spoon.

Now that Adarsh’s parents have gone home to Dubai, the smell of fragrant curry leaves and nutty mustard seeds sizzling in my kitchen bring back warm fuzzy feelings of family, being cared for, and well fed. It seems what was once exotic is now familiar comfort food to me, too.

 

South-Indian Red Lentils (Masoor Dal)

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Servings 6
Dinner
Indian

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 2 tsp kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
  • 1/8 tsp asaofetida
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2-3 thai green chiles split lengthwise (3 can be quite hot)
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato fresh or canned

Instructions
 

  • Rinse lentils and bring to a boil with 5 cups of water. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes, or until very soft.  Stir in salt and turmeric.
  • Place oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When shimmering hot, sprinkle asafoetida (if using) over the oil, then add the mustard seeds and curry leaves.  As soon as the mustard seeds pop and the curry leaves turn a shade darker, reduce heat to low and stir in the ginger and chiles. Fry for about 15 seconds, then add the tomatoes.  Give it a stir, then stir it into the cooked lentils, oil and all.  Taste and add more salt if needed (I added an extra 1/2 tsp).

 

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Lynne Polischuik
Lynne Polischuik
9 years ago

Made this tonight and it really is the perfect salad. Love the late summer combo of apple, walnuts, raisins, tomato and fresh herbs. It’s light yet substantial, and the dressing is perfect. Several of your recipes have become ‘go to’ ones for me and I think this just became another one 🙂

Jennifer Pallian
9 years ago

Thanks, Lynne! 🙂 Great to hear!

Lynne Polischuik
Lynne Polischuik
9 years ago

Made this tonight and it really is the perfect salad. Love the late summer combo of apple, walnuts, raisins, tomato and fresh herbs. It’s light yet substantial, and the dressing is perfect. Several of your recipes have become ‘go to’ ones for me and I think this just became another one 🙂

Jennifer Pallian
9 years ago

Thanks, Lynne! 🙂 Great to hear!

disqus_3gbQRYPVC3
disqus_3gbQRYPVC3
3 years ago

Thanks for the recipe! I tried to recreate it today, but discovered that your recipe doesn’t mention when the turmeric is added in the process! Does it go into the daal at the end, or is it added to the spices in the tadka stage?

Lynne Polischuik
Lynne Polischuik
3 years ago

Made this tonight and it really is the perfect salad. Love the late summer combo of apple, walnuts, raisins, tomato and fresh herbs. It’s light yet substantial, and the dressing is perfect. Several of your recipes have become ‘go to’ ones for me and I think this just became another one 🙂

Jennifer Pallian
3 years ago

Thanks, Lynne! 🙂 Great to hear!

Lynne Polischuik
Lynne Polischuik
3 years ago

Made this tonight and it really is the perfect salad. Love the late summer combo of apple, walnuts, raisins, tomato and fresh herbs. It’s light yet substantial, and the dressing is perfect. Several of your recipes have become ‘go to’ ones for me and I think this just became another one 🙂

Jennifer Pallian
3 years ago

Thanks, Lynne! 🙂 Great to hear!

disqus_3gbQRYPVC3
disqus_3gbQRYPVC3
3 years ago

Thanks for the recipe! I tried to recreate it today, but discovered that your recipe doesn’t mention when the turmeric is added in the process! Does it go into the daal at the end, or is it added to the spices in the tadka stage?

Dhousch
Dhousch
3 months ago

5 stars
Look at ##1. You will find the answer.

Lynne Polischuik
Lynne Polischuik
3 years ago

Made this tonight and it really is the perfect salad. Love the late summer combo of apple, walnuts, raisins, tomato and fresh herbs. It’s light yet substantial, and the dressing is perfect. Several of your recipes have become ‘go to’ ones for me and I think this just became another one 🙂

Jennifer Pallian
3 years ago

Thanks, Lynne! 🙂 Great to hear!

Lynne Polischuik
Lynne Polischuik
3 years ago

Made this tonight and it really is the perfect salad. Love the late summer combo of apple, walnuts, raisins, tomato and fresh herbs. It’s light yet substantial, and the dressing is perfect. Several of your recipes have become ‘go to’ ones for me and I think this just became another one 🙂

Jennifer Pallian
3 years ago

Thanks, Lynne! 🙂 Great to hear!

Lynne Polischuik
Lynne Polischuik
9 years ago

Made this tonight and it really is the perfect salad. Love the late summer combo of apple, walnuts, raisins, tomato and fresh herbs. It’s light yet substantial, and the dressing is perfect. Several of your recipes have become ‘go to’ ones for me and I think this just became another one 🙂

Jennifer Pallian
3 years ago

Thanks, Lynne! 🙂 Great to hear!

disqus_3gbQRYPVC3
disqus_3gbQRYPVC3
3 years ago

Thanks for the recipe! I tried to recreate it today, but discovered that your recipe doesn’t mention when the turmeric is added in the process! Does it go into the daal at the end, or is it added to the spices in the tadka stage?

Lynne Polischuik
Lynne Polischuik
3 years ago

Made this tonight and it really is the perfect salad. Love the late summer combo of apple, walnuts, raisins, tomato and fresh herbs. It’s light yet substantial, and the dressing is perfect. Several of your recipes have become ‘go to’ ones for me and I think this just became another one 🙂

Jennifer Pallian
3 years ago

Thanks, Lynne! 🙂 Great to hear!

Anna Raskolnikoff
Anna Raskolnikoff
2 years ago

We eat mainly Bengali dals. This one is a much needed and refreshing change. It’s delicious! Thank you!

Adeana
Adeana
2 years ago

5 stars
My new go-to recipe for breakfast! Delicious! My only addition is cilantro, cumin, and lime juice.

Shelly
Shelly
2 years ago

Please stop spamming the comments, Re: Lynne Polischuik and the automatic responses to her posts. Please answer an earlier question, at which point do you add the Tumeric? Thank you

Renee
Renee
1 year ago

5 stars
This is excellent.

john
john
1 year ago

Do you think that I could make the broth the day before my brunch event? Then reheat the broth the next day and add the seafood?

Wei
Wei
5 months ago

Made this the other night. Soooo delicious and easy to make. Clear and concise instructions. Thanks for sharing.

Lou
Lou
3 months ago

5 stars
Wow!! I loved this recipe! So utterly delicious. My partner said it tasted like the real thing. Lol! All thanks to this recipe.

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