Dal, also spelled Dhal, is a very popular Indian dish. It can have the texture of soup, it can be a sauce or it can be a kind of binder for foods when people eat with their hands as is still common in India. Red lentils are the lentil of choice as they don’t need to be soaked overnight.
My dal may be more tomatoey than is traditional. I used quite a variety of spices but the dal itself is only mildly spicy. At the last minute I stirred in some lime pickle and the lime really shines through. It can stand alone as a vegetarian dish or could be a side dish. Add more broth and it can be a hearty soup.
Prep. and cook time – around 45 minutes
1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion – finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic – grated
1/2 tsp. each of turmeric, coriander, cumin and garam masala
1 cup of red lentils
2 cups chicken or veg. broth
14 oz. San Marzano tomatoes – crushed
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp. Patak’s hot lime pickle (available in supermarkets or online and a great pantry staple if you like spice food)
Pour the oil into a skillet and season. When sizzling, tip in the onion and let soften and slightly brown before adding the garlic and cooking for a further few minutes.
Spoon in the spices, stir and let cook for a couple of minutes until you can smell them.
Add the lentils, broth, tomatoes and lemon juice and bring to a boil then turn down heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
Stir in the lime pickle being careful to finely chop any large pieces of lime.