Quick Recipes and Easy

A Simple, High-Protein Vegetarian Dal / Lentil Soup

Lentil soup (dal) is a staple item for East Indian and other cultures’ diets. Dal can be made like a smooth soup, or it can be made into a thick vegetable stew. Here is a recipe for a very basic dal, which will be the basis for future recipes.

1 tsp cumin seed1 tsp whole mustard1 tsp whole coriander seed1/2 tsp red pepper flake [optional]1 cup lentils1 tbsp turmeric2-3 tbsp cooking oil (canola or vegetable)1/4 cup diced cooking onion [optional]4 cups waterSalt and black pepper to taste
In a spice/coffee grinder, grind the cumin seed, mustard, coriander seed, and red pepper flake. Remove the mix and set aside. [It's okay if you are missing some of these items, but try to at least have cumin.]In the same grinder, grind up the lentils in one or more batches and set aside. NOTE: Some imported lentils must be washed to remove stones, husks and other inedibles. In this case, you should either completely dry the lentils before grinding, or use a blender with a cup of water.Heat cooking oil on high in a medium sauce pan or a ceramic cookpot, if possible.Turn the heat down to medium high. Add turmeric and the freshly ground spice mixture. Roast the spices for about a minute.Reduce the heat to medium. Add the ground lentils and roast for about 2 minutes.If using, add the onions and saute for about 1 minute.Reduce the heat to just above low. Add the water, stir and cover partially. Let simmer for 30 – 45 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to prevent burning on the bottom. Add extra water a small at a time if the consistency is too thick, then simmer for a few more minutes. Lentils can burn very easily and ruin your pots – not to mention stink up your place because of the high protein content. So watch the dal carefully.Normally, you would not grind the lentils. But, I tried this to speed up the cooking time and it really worked rather well. If you do not have a coffee/spice grinder, you can still use this recipe. In which case, turn the heat down to low, add an extra cup of water, and let the dal cook an extra 10-15 minutes, uncovered.Whether you use ground lentils or not, if you find the dal getting too thick but the individual lentils are still hard (uncooked), add another cup of water, stir gently, and let simmer. With lentils, until you get the hang of them, keep tasting a spoonful at different times until you find it has a satisfying texture. I like a very smooth dal, while others like to use non-ground lentils that do not fully dissolve.When you are satisfied with the texture of the dal, remove the pot from the heat and sprinkle on salt and black pepper to taste.

Serve on rice or with flatbread toast points

(c) Copyright 2006-present, Raj Kumar Dash

Raj Kumar Dash, also known as the very opinionated Elvis Parsley, the “Curry” Elvis, was taught cooking at his mother’s side. A trained cook, he writes about various world cuisines, the health-related aspects of food, food TV shows, and pretty much anything related to the food industry. You can find his new food site (still in revision) at curryelvis.com/ curryelvis.com/, and four older cooking blog archives by starting curryelviscooks.blogspot.com curryelviscooks.blogspot.com

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