We celebrated Ameya’s 7th, and Saumya’s 5th birthdays recently, and the party was a hit! Lots of friends, family, and food! After all the excitement came to an end, and Lhasa was down for a nap, it was time to think about dinner. I was exhausted, and totally not in the mood for meal making but I knew the girls needed a solid, healthy dinner in their bellies to make up for all the party day indulgences.
I decided to make a family favorite, a quick, easy and healthy red lentil daal. As it was cooking, the kids came running into the kitchen and Ameya said, “What’s for dinner Mom? It smells amaaaaaaaazing!” It was a success even before it was eagerly, and ravenously consumed, so I just had to share the recipe with all of you!
Red lentils are the quickest and easiest lentil to prepare. They don’t require soaking, and have a mild, neutral taste. For those of you who are nervous about eating lentils because of their gas inducing properties, rest assured that there are ways to avoid this. The more lentils, and beans you eat, the more your stomach acclimates and you will find you have less gas. Adam and I also often take Udo’s Ultimate Digestive Enzyme Blend before we eat any beans or lentils, and find it makes a significant difference in our digestive capabilities, it’s an amazing product!
But enough about that, and back to the deliciousness that is this comforting, Indian meal. In this daal I use kalonji or nigella seeds, which have a distinct roasted onion flavor and a myriad of health benefits (bonus!). I buy mine at the local Indian grocery store. If you can’t find these seeds just omit them from the recipe. They do add a lot of flavor to this daal but even without, it will still be delicious. The same goes for curry leaves, that can also be found at your local Indian store. If you find them fresh, just leave them on your counter on a paper towel until they are dry. Store the dried leaves in an airtight container.
So, if you are a fan of Indian food, give this simple, Red Lentil Daal a try. It’s quick, and easy to make but is so rich in the flavor department that you will have everyone fooled into thinking you were cooking for hours! I like to serve this daal over white rice and quinoa or with naan to dip into it. It’s also delicious on it’s own as a soup. Enjoy!
- 1 cup red lentils
- 4 cups water
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 inch ginger, peeled and shredded
- 3 roma tomatoes, skins removed and chopped*
- 1.5 tbps cumin seeds, crushed
- ½ - 1 tsp kalonji (nigella seeds)*
- 1 tbsp turmeric powder
- 4 curry leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 - 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
- salt to taste
- Pick through the lentils for any small stones and discard them.
- In a fine mesh colander, rinse the lentils until the water run clear.
- Add the lentils to a pot with the water. Do not salt the water as this can hinder the lentils from cooking.
- Cook the lentils on medium heat, stirring once in a while. Skim any foam that appears on the top and discard. You will know the lentils are cooked through once they have lost their shape and are soft. The mixture will appear yellow and the consistency will be that of a thin soup. If your lentils are too thick, add a little bit of water to thin. Set the cooked lentils aside.
- Using a mortar and pestle, grind the cumin seeds until they are fine and powdery.
- In a small frying pan, heat the grapeseed oil on medium heat. When it is hot, add the onions, ginger, bay and curry leaves.
- Once the onions have softened and cooked through, add the crushed cumin seeds, kalonji and turmeric. Stir to combine.
- When the spices are fragrant, add the tomatoes. Cook this mixture until the tomatoes have broken down and thickened.
- Add the tomato and onion mixture to the cooked lentils. Stir to combine. Salt to taste.
- If your daal is too thick, thin with water. Don’t thin too much as this will dilute the flavor of the daal.
- Serve hot over rice and quinoa, with naan on the side or as a soup on its own.
-If you can’t find kalonji or nigella seeds, and curry leaves, omit them. You should be able to find these ingredients at any Indian, Middle Eastern or African grocery stores.
-If you have leftover daal, it will thicken in the fridge over night. Just thin it with a little bit of water when you are reheating it.
-If you are vegetarian and do eat dairy, feel free to replace the grapeseed oil with ghee which will add another layer of flavour.
-To add heat to this recipe add 1 finely sliced red chili while frying the onions and ginger.
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