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Monday, November 29, 2010

Meatless Monday - Red Lentil Dahl

I'm back from Las Vegas. I had such a wonderful time visiting with my family. I will have a few stories to tell, and many pictures to share later. In the meantime, the lovely Laloofah is here to share another one of her outstanding recipes. This recipe is for a Red Lentil Dahl, yum! Please stop by her blog,  Mehitable Days, and pay her a visit (she has some good looking holiday recipes over there right now, I need to try them). So, without further ado, take it away Laloofah.

When I was a senior in college I lived in an international dorm, which had its own kitchen. Every Wednesday night during the spring semester each room took turns cooking dinner for the dorm, and the international students usually made typical fare from their homeland. My friend Safdar from Karachi, Pakistan made dahl (or dal, daal or dhal) when it was his turn. I'd never heard of dahl before, but I fell in love with it immediately and ate three bowls of it that night! The recipe was his mom's, which I got a copy of but lost track of - along with Safdar, sadly - at some point in the ensuing years, but I never forgot him or his dahl.

So several years ago I decided to try to recreate Safdar's dahl from memory. My first batch turned out well, and surprisingly close to how I remembered Safdar's, but the recipe has changed a bit over the years as I've added more spices and combined it with ingredients I've found in other dahl recipes I've come across.

The basic dahl recipe is, of course, still lentils (I prefer the red ones, which cook more quickly while holding their shape pretty well, and are prettier ~ says me!), onion, garlic, and the typical spices like turmeric, cumin and coriander. Feel free to add, increase, reduce or delete spices and veggies to your own taste (as long as you keep the lentils and curry!), and have fun playing with this recipe to make it your own.


- 4 - 5 cups water or vegetable broth**
- 1 3/4 cups red lentils
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
- 3 tsp curry
- 1/2 - 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 - 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 - 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2-3 medium potatoes, cubed (we use Yukon Golds)
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (or about 5 medium tomatoes, chopped)
- 1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)

Heat a large non-stick soup pot over medium heat. When heated, add onion and garlic and sauté, stirring frequently (add just enough water to prevent sticking, if necessary) till onions are translucent.

Add water or broth**

Rinse lentils, picking out any stones, and add to pot, along with the curry, turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt and cayenne (if desired)

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the potatoes, celery, and carrots, cover and simmer over low-medium heat an additional 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Add the can of tomatoes and simmer 5-10 minutes more, uncovered, until heated through and the thickness you desire.

Great by itself, with vegan naan (or any whole grain) bread, or over brown rice.

** If we plan to eat the dahl by itself and want it thick and more stew-like, I use 4 cups of liquid - usually half organic vegetable broth and half water. If we plan to serve it over rice we like it a bit thinner, like a thick soup, so I use 5 cups of liquid (3 cups water and 2 cups broth).

Adjust the spice measurements according to your taste and to how much liquid you're using, using larger measurements if you're using 5 cups of liquid.
We live at high altitude so it takes longer for the potatoes to cook here. Adjust cooking times as needed for your own conditions and preferences (depending on what variety of potato you're using, you may want to add the potatoes with the lentils at the beginning, and the carrots and celery later. If you like your dahl more on the mushy side, you can add all of the above at the beginning... if you prefer your carrots and celery more al dente, add them later. This is a forgiving recipe, play with it till it suits your tastes!)

Other veggies and spices I've seen in other dahl recipes and sometimes add to this one include grated or ground ginger, thyme leaves, garam masala, curry leaves, zucchini, kohlrabi, spinach, and kale.

I have another dahl recipe (Compassionate Cooks' Masoor Dal) that calls for cumin seed, which is sautéed along with the onion and garlic. (You can try that with this recipe, too. I keep meaning to and forget!)


Laloofah said...

Welcome back, Jennifer! I'm glad you had a wonderful holiday visit with your family and can't wait to see your photos and hear about your adventures! :-)

Thank you for that lovely intro to my Dahl recipe! You picked a perfect day to post it, at least at my end of the swamp! It's cold, windy and snowing, and we got several inches of snow overnight! I'd make this today myself if I didn't still have a few leftovers to plow through! :-)

Anyway, I hope everyone who gives it a try really enjoys it. Safdar (and his mom) would be thrilled to know the legacy of their dahl has spread and thrived! :-)

Rose said...

Sounds so yummy and it looks so pretty too! I love the addition of fire roasted tomatoes. I can imagine this is just brimming with goodness and flavor.

Laurie: thanks for another star recipe I'll be trying soon.

Jennifer: Glad to hear you had a nice holiday! :)

Angela said...

Hi! Funny, I was cleaning-out y pantry yesterday and came across a big bag of red lentils. It's all cold and rainy here today, so this might just have to be my lunch! Will let you know if I make it. Nice to "meet" you! :)

Jamie said...

Yum! Sounds so good.

Hope you had a great time in Vegas!

Mihl said...

Dhal is such a great food! I love it very much. In fact, my boyfriend just made some.

Islaborg said...

Thank you for stopping by, Vegan mofo has been a blast, hasn't it? :)
I too am a big red lentil fan and I enjoyed reading your story. I love it when a friend introduces me to new foods and dishes, it really creates great memories!

Gilding Lilies said...

Thanks everybody, it's good to be back. I had such a nice time, but there is no place like home.
Thanks for the visit my MoFo buddies.
Thanks Laloofah, you're a gem!

aimee said...

This looks wonderful! Thanks for sharing :-)

Laloofah said...

Thank you to everyone who left such nice comments to me, it's wonderful to see so many fellow fans of red lentils and/or dahl! :-)

And thank you again, Jennifer, it was fun getting the opportunity to be a guest blogger on one of my very favorite blogs!

Happy last day of November!

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