One of my favourite meals is the plain old simple rice and dahl. If there’s roti around, I go for the roti, but rice is a close second.
There are many ways to make dahl, nearly as many ways as there are types of lentil. This version is a full-bodied, thick creation made with several types of lentils. It’s a dish that is warming on a cold day and nourishing everyday.
My version also uses vegetables, but you don’t have to add them. And it can be as thick or as thin as you like. trial and error will tell you how much water to add to get the consistency you want.
What you need
150gm toor dahl
100gm moong dahl
100gm chana dahl
1½ litres water
150gm onions sliced
1½ teaspoons of ginger/garlic paste
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin (jeera)
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
Eight leaves curry leaves (tez patthi)
Four tablespoons ghee (for a richer flavour) or vegetable oil
Optional: 100gm mushrooms and 150 tomatoes, quartered, 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
Put the three dahls in a large bowl and rinse with a couple of changes of water. Cover with water and leave to soak for a couple of hours.
In a large pot bring the the dahl in 1½ litres of water to the boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes skimming off any foam that comes to the surface.
Add the salt, about a third of the onions, and the turmeric. Stir and continue cooking for another 10 minutes by when the lentils should have softened and dissolved to some extent. Add more water if you need it. (If you’re using the tomatoes and/or mushrooms, add them here).
Leave on low heat while you prepare the mixture to temper your dahl.
Tempering: Heat the ghee or oil in a separate pan. Lower the heat to medium and add the jeera and mustard seed, quickly followed by the remaining onions. Add the ginger/garlic paste, stir and continue cooking. If you’re using chilli add it here. After about 3-4 minutes on medium heat, turn the heat off and add this mixture to the simmering dahl.
Dahl will freeze well so transfer any leftovers to small serving-sized containers and store in the freezer.