(serves 4 as a side along with rice / bread)

Moong (yellow) / Masoor (pink) Lentil beans (either / or a mix of the 2) 1 cup

Water 4 cups

Turmeric Powder 1 tsp

Chopped Onion 1 medium

Chopped Tomato 1 large

Garlic cloves (chopped fine) 4-6

Salt 1/2 tsp (or to taste)

For Tempering / Seasoning

Ghee (clarified butter) or a mix of butter & oil or butter by itself 2 tbsp

Cumin Seeds 1 tsp

Chilli  Powder 1/2 tsp

Paprika Powder 1/2 tsp

Whole dried chillies 1 or 2

Chopped coriander to garnish

  • Rinse the daal (lentils) and put to cook in a covered sauce pan, along with 4 cups of water, turmeric & salt as well as the chopped onion, tomatoes and garlic.
  • On a medium heat, bring to a gentle boil. You can keep the pot covered to speed up the cooking process.
  • Stir occasionally to get rid of the “scum” formed on the surface.
  • When the lentils are cooked, check to see the consistency. If it’s too thick and gluggy, add some more hot water to get it to a more runny consistency.
  • While the daal is cooking, heat a heavy bottomed skillet and ensure you have all the seasoning / tempering ingredients all at hand.
  • When the pan is hot, add the ghee and heat till hot (but not burning). If you see it smoking, pull your pan off the heat and then back on the heat to ensure an even, hot temperature.
  • Add the cumin seeds first, followed by the chilli, paprika and whole dried chillies. If you want a bit of a “hit” in your daal, snap the chillies in half.
  • Pour the mix over the daal and garnish with chopped coriander. Take care not to splutter the mix as it’s very hot and you could get burnt.
  • Mix well before serving.

The “tarka” (seasoning / tempering) is a fast and very impressive affair! I often have the pot of daal simmering all afternoon and apply the “tarka” while we gather in the kitchen just before the meal is taken to the table. It never fails to impress! The smokiness of the ghee and the whole spices add a lovely depth of flavour to an otherwise really easy and plain dish.

You can add butter if you don’t have ghee or use vegetable oil if you want to stick with plant based fats, or use coconut oil, instead. This will change the flavour of the daal slightly.

Keep in mind that daal often gets thicker when left for a while. If you want to thin it out, just heat it, and add some boiling hot water to bring it to a desired consistency.