Lentil salad was served in the summer while I was growing up on the farm. Until I met my husband, I only knew of the one variety – the ‘lentil’ that was sold in grocery stores. You know the one – a tiny brownish green looking disc. I had no idea what I had been missing all these years until I had my first steaming bowl of dal with a fresh roti. Dal is a comforting, spicy and creamy dish, that is often served along with other delicious dishes at Pakistani and East Indian family gatherings. There are many types of dal, as there are many varieties of lentils- this recipe uses split red lentils.
The perfectly caramelized mixture of onions and serrano peppers in oil is the base for a well rounded dal.
Once the dal has been rinsed and the onions and serrano peppers are browned and caramelized, add the ginger, garlic, rinsed lentils, water and spices.
When the dal is creamy and bubbling, add the sliced fried onions to add the finishing touch!
- 1 tablespoon oil (olive, sunflower, canola, vegetable)
- 1 cup split red lentils, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup finely chopped onion
- 1 Serrano pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 clove of garlic, grated
- 1" piece of ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2¼ cups water
- 2 teaspoons oil
- sliced fried onion
- In a medium or large bowl, combine the lentils and cold water or using a sieve under running water, rinse the lentils until water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over med-high heat. Add chopped onions and serrano pepper and reduce heat to low-medium. Let onions cook until they are golden brown, which takes about 5-10 minutes. Add spices and let cook for about 2 minutes, adjusting the heat so the mixture doesn't burn. Next add grated garlic and ginger, stirring to incorporate the ingredients. Cook on low until the raw smell of garlic and ginger has subsided, which takes about 2 minutes.
- Add lentils and 2¼ -1/2 cups of cold water and stir. Turn up the heat to med/high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Let cook, uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point the dal will thicken and you'll need to stir continuously until it is creamy, thick and slightly bubbling.
- As the dal is thickening, fry the onion in a medium-sized pan with oil over low heat, for about 5 minutes, or until caramelized.
- As soon as the onions are done, add them to the bubbling dal and stir. Serve as a main dish to be enjoyed with roti or naan! It goes equally well with rice! Enjoy!