Hello, 2022! We are in a deep freeze at the moment and I am craving stick-to-the-ribs comfort food. In place of a soup or stew, I turned my cravings to the Indian subcontinent. Our introduction to dhal was when we first lived in Hong Kong in 1998. Mr. S’ boss invited us to an Indian restaurant in Wan Chai. It was my first time eating Indian food that wasn’t ‘westernized’. The aromas were off-the-charts intoxicating! One of the items ordered was dhal; a thick stew-like dish typically made from lentils or pulses. Dhal is a popular main dish in India and Pakistan. It’s inexpensive to prepare and packed with flavour. This recipe is super easy to make and a perfect initiation to Indian food.
serves 4 to 6
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
thumb size ginger, peeled and minced
2 to 3 teaspoons garam masala (store-bought or make your own)
1 1/2 cup lentils (rinse lentils thoroughly)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
14 oz. can chopped tomatoes OR canned cherry tomatoes
14 oz. can coconut milk
In a large pot over medium heat, sauté onions in oil until soft (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant. Add garam masala and red pepper flakes. Stir into the onion mixture. Add lentils and stir. Top with coconut milk and allow the cream to melt before adding canned tomatoes. Add 1 to 2 cups of water if you want the dhal to be more like a soup.
Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until the lentils are soft. Squeeze the lime juice into the pot and stir to incorporate. Serve with naan (flatbread) or over rice. It can be served as a main or side dish.
the culinary chase’s note:
In a covered container, dhal will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. You can also freeze it. Enjoy!