There is something about dal (lentils) that is hard to beat when one is looking for a pantry-friendly meal that provides oodles of comfort. Lentils are also hard to beat when it comes to health benefits. One interesting study (among many!) showed that eating a servings of beans, lentils or pulses per day – about 3/4 cup – can reduce cardiovascular disease risk by 5-6%. Lentils also contain beneficial fiber that feeds the useful bugs in our microbiome. Moreover, lentils are a great source of plant-based protein, iron and even zinc, which is critical for optimal immunity, especially now as we try and stay in good immune health amidst the current crisis. This recipe uses toor dal or split yellow pigeon peas but can be made with yellow (moong) or red (masoor) lentils as well. It’s flavorful, packed with beneficial spices and, most important, super easy to whip up. I hope you enjoy.
If using a pressure cooker, add the dal with enough water to cover and the ginger and cook at high pressure for about 20 minutes or until the dal has completely softened. If using a regular pot, mix the dal with 4 cups of water and the ginger and cook on a medium-low flame with the lid on for 40-60 minutes until cooked through.
While the dal is cooking, prepare the tadka (seasoning). Heat the oil or ghee in a pot on medium high heat. Add the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds and allow them to sizzle and just begin popping, about 30 seconds. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes.
Add the spices, tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
Add the spiced tomato tadka to the cooked lentils and cook for 5-10 minutes on a low flame. You may need to add more water for a more soupy consistency. Adjust the salt to taste. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro. A touch of cayenne may be nice too if you like extra heat (like me :)).
Serve with rice, quinoa, roti or as is. This can be frozen and is delicious the next day as the flavors inter-mingle even more.
Please note this makes a large pot, you can always halve the recipe if you like.
Split yellow pigeon peas (toor dal) can easily be found online if they are not available at your local grocery store.