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Red Lentil Dhal

January 23rd, 2008 | 8 Comments »


Red Lentil Dhal
makes 6-8 servings

Toasting and grinding your seeds is so worth the effort, and doesn’t take long at all. Serve this dhal as a main dish with rice or as a side dish. It is aromatic, rich and delicious.

3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 medium yellow onion
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried red lentils
2 tablespoon tomato paste
4-5 cups water or veg broth
5 plum tomatoes, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 cup lightly packed chopped fresh cilantro

Spice blend
2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 whole cloves
4 cardomom pods

2 dried red chilis (seeds removed)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a saute pan over medium heat, toast the seeds (but not the dried red chili) for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from pan and let cool. Transfer to coffee grinder, along with the dried red chili and cinnamon, and grind to a fine powder. Over medium-high heat oil a soup pot, add onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and saute 5 more minutes. Add spices and salt, saute 5 minutes more. Add 4 cups of water and stir to deglaze the pot. Add tomato paste and lentils. Bring to a boil then lower the heat a bit and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes, lime juice and cilantro and more water if it looks too thick. Simmer 10 more minutes, or until lentils are completely tender.

RECIPE NOTES: Surprise! I didn’t vary too much from this original recipe except to add about two cups of shredded spinach to the last 10 minute simmer. I also grated in some lime zest simply because I love how it tastes. It needed no extra water after 30 minutes of simmering, and as it sat and cooled it thickened quite a bit, so if you get an end result that seems thin, don’t despair. After a night in the fridge it was thicker still.

I did cook the onions until they were slightly browned and rather soft; I love the flavor they impart with this amount of cooking. Beware when you add the water after cooking the spices and onion mixture- the pan will splatter a lot!

TOAST the spices!! TOAST the spices! TOAST the spices!

8 responses to “Red Lentil Dhal”

  1. I love lentils so that soup looks pretty interesting. Thanks for the pretty pic of it.

  2. Paula says:

    Mmmm Looks great. I just bought some lentils, now I’ve got a great recipe to try!

  3. Jonathan says:

    Oh man… vegetarian I’ll never become. We recently returned from a pork-fest trip in Madrid where I think I started growing hooves and a snout and returned back to NY bloated and overweight. We figured we’d try a meat-free week of eating. I’m happy to report that we did it – although we almost caved in 2 times. I’m unhappy to report that it was TOUGH. REALLY freaking tough. I missed my meat. I missed cutting into meat. I missed the texture and feel of it as I chewed. I realized then and there that the veggie life really will never be for me. Regardless, it did teach me that I want to eat meat-free half the week if possible. This recipe is one to go on my new list of meat-free (and pasta free) meals. I HEART lentils, too. I wonder how this would do in a slow-cooker? amy @ http://weareneverfull.com

  4. Warm, satisfying lentils are one of my ultimate comfort foods. Yours looks perfect for dinner tonight. Think you can spare a bowl?

  5. katie says:

    I do love lentils! I think I could go half vegetarian…maybe 3 nights of beans and lentils followed by steak…
    Love the addition of the spinach! And yes lentils and ham, lentils and bacon, lentils and sausage…forget the vegetarian part…

  6. Clumsy says:

    Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever had lentils without bits of chopped up bacon in it… don’t think I’d survive as a vegetarian. But I’m putting this recipe on the list, it sounds yummy!

  7. rocketscandal says:

    I stumbled upon this through the great WordPress network of clicky-links in my spare time. I have to say that this recipe looks absolutely, mouthwateringly delicious.

    I was vegetarian for a long time, and recently gave up the title, but still remain on a mostly meat-free diet (okay, almost entirely meat-free). I have to say, of all the things I like the most, lentil dishes were something I didn’t discover until recently. God I love lentils.

    I’ll definitely be trying this recipe out, and will check up on your blog again!


  8. Scott says:

    Kate, you sound like my wife. She says she could almost go veggie but when she wants her some animal parts, she really wants them.

    And I guess great minds think alike, we test drove a new lentil soup recipe this week that I’m gonna post when I get a chance.