QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded

Spicy dal

A simple to make, if slow, simple dish. I eat it as a hot side dish, add something for crunch to make a hot soup, or cold as a cracker dip. Today's lunch was the hot soup version with some (packaged, store bought) fried onion for crunch. I adapted this from an old Madhur Jaffrey cookbook. There she basically says "Here's the how, adapt the spices to your taste." I'm going to pass that recommendation on to you.

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1" to 2" ginger

In a suitably sized sauce pan, start heating the water on full heat. While that's happening, give the lentils a good rinse to wash the dust off, it helps reduce the froth, then add to the heating water. Peel the ginger and cut into three or four good size hunks and toss those in the pan, too.

When it starts to boil, skim off the foam on the surface. Add

  • 1 teaspoon tumeric powder

Give it a good stir to mix in the tumeric, lower the heat to a simmer, put a lid mostly on, but leave a crack for some steam to escape. Then let that go for an hour to ninety minutes. If the heat is too high and the water has boiled off, add some more hot water to make it soupy. (And adjust the heat.) You can pretty much ignore it during this stage.

After hour to ninety minutes you can fish out and discard the ginger. Get a small fry pan heating.

  • a teaspoon or so of oil
  • a teaspoon of whole cumin
  • a teaspoon or two of crushed red pepper
  • a pinch of asafoetida powder (aka "hing")

Add the oil, let it heat a bit, then add the cumin, wait a few seconds and add the red pepper and asafoetida. Stir it in the pan a bit to get all the spices covered in oil and lightly toasted. The asafoetida may smell a lot, it really needs just five or ten seconds in the oil. The others thirty to sixty seconds. Then add the hot oil and spices to the lentils. Maybe add

  • a teaspoon or so corriander powder
  • a teaspoon or so salt

to the lentils as well. Stir to mix the spices in, turn off heat.

As a side, it's done now. As a soup I feel it needs something more. I've used crumpled crackers, broken chakli, crunchy fried onions, chopped cashews, etc.

Left over cold I use it as dip/spread for crackers. Or it can be reheated to be a sidedish / soup again. Easily made a day or two in advance.

It's boring and simple looking, so no photo.