Revisiting dhals, this time using what are commonly called red lentils, which are split masoor lentils as apposed to whole (see here).
The recipe that follows uses split masoor lentils, sans skin, that reveals their brilliant red hue. As you can see when cooked they are very soft and suspended in a rich soupy broth. This is one of the most popular dhals in India and found on most Indian restaurant menus. It cooks up quickly and has an irresistible universal “comfort food” appeal. I think you will find yourself cooking them up, as I have, and serving them with South Asian meals as well as with “mash ups”, not to be confused with fusion, meals as well.
Masoor Dhal: serves 4
- 1 cup/8oz split masoor (red) lentils
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric powder
- ½ cup minced shallots
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 cups of water + more as needed
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 small dried red chillies, whole
- 1 teaspoon chickpea flour (optional)
- 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter) or unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon panch phoron (5 spice mix) See recipe below.
- 1/8 teaspoon grated or powdered asafoatida/hing (optional) See note below.
- Fresh coriander leaves for garnish (optional)
Rinse the lentils well and place them in a large sauce pan along with the turmeric, shallots, and garlic. Place over medium heat, bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Skim off any foam that has formed on the surface and discard. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir in the sea salt and add the whole dried chillies. Cover the pan with a lid and gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring several times.
Test the lentils to see if they have softened. Stir in the chickpea flour if using and continue to cook, adding just a little water if needed, until the lentils are soft and the liquid has reduced and thickened to a soupy consistency; about 10 to 12 minutes.
Place the ghee (or butter) in the bowl of a metal ladle and hold it over a burner or flame until it is melted and bubbling rapidly. Add the five spice mix and swirl the ladle until the spices are tempered and releasing a rich toasted aroma; about 45 seconds. Then carefully lower the ladle into the center of the simmering lentils. It will sizzle at first. When the sizzling has stopped stir the contents into the lentils. Add the asafoetida (if using) and stir to combine. Continue to simmer for five minutes, then remove from the stove, cover with the lid, and set the pan aside to steep for 20 minutes.
Serving: Remove the whole chillies from the dhal before serving or use them as a garnish with a warning to the chile adverse. They are hot! Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
Suggested: Pair with plain unseasoned steamed spinach. A match made in heaven!
Panch Phoron ( 5 spice mix)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds (black cumin)
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
Combine the whole seeds and store in an airtight jar. Used whole and either tempered in sizzling ghee or dry roasted to release and the flavors.
Note: asafoetida is made from the dried gum of a rhizome in south Asia. It is used as a flavor enhancer and digestive aid that is purported to reduce flatulence. Available in South Asian markets.