This is probably one of the first Indian dishes I taught myself that did not come out of a jar, and I still cook it quite regularly. There is something wonderfully comforting about a bowl of spiced soupy lentils.
Although the ingredient list may look a little daunting, a lot of them are spices, and if you are a fan of Indian food, once you have a half decent spice collection, there are not too many other things you need. This recipe can easily be doubled/tripled, tastes even better the next day (as with a lot of curries) and freezes very well for further meals.
Serve with a side of basmati rice or roti (I will put up my very basic homemade roti recipe soon) to bulk the meal up, and vary it up by serving it with different chutneys. I often have 3 or 4 in my fridge that I take out every time I cook Indian. Another way to bulk up this dish a little is to add some veggies such as carrot, zucchini, gourds such as snake gourd or bottle gourd or whatever you think would taste good in it, I’ve found the more I cook this dish, the more comfortable I get at playing with the recipe and adding what I have in the kitchen at the time. Have fun with it!
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large onion
- Pinch of salt
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- Pinch of asafoetida (hing)
- 225 g masoor dal (split red lentils)
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 5 curry leaves
- 850 ml water
- 3 tsp tomato paste
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- 2 tsp tamarind paste
- Dollop of sweet mango chutney
- Chopped fresh coriander
- Basmati rice or roti
- Finely chop up the onion and cloves of garlic.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a medium sized saucepan and then add the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt. Saute this on a medium-low heat for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent, if it starts to brown, lower the heat.
- Grate some fresh ginger into the saucepan and add the cumin, chilli, turmeric and asafoetida. Stir the spices into the onion mix for a minute or 2 until the are lovely and fragrant.
- Add the lentils, as well as the cinnamon, curry leaves and water, stir to combine, making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot, bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato and tamarind pastes and continue simmering for a further 10 minutes until the lentils are nice and soft.
- Add the lemon juice and mango chutney to season.
- Serve with a small mountain of coriander over the top and an extra dollop of mango chutney on the side. If you want to bulk this meal up put some roti/naan or steamed basmati rice on the side.