Spice in the Kitchen: Easy Indian Dal Recipe

Do yourself a favor. Stock up a good pantry and this will allow you to cook a wide variety of dishes at a moments notice. You can do what I did and go through various ethnic cookbooks and write down special ingredients/spices for dishes you like. For Indian meals, some great entry level basic spices are: cumin (powdered and whole), coriander powder, garam masala, tumeric, black mustard seeds, red pepper (whole or flakes), bay leaves and ginger. You can buy these spices and other staples, like dal and basmati rice, very cheapily at an Indian grocer.

Easy Vegan Indian Spilt Pea Soup Recipe (Dal or Dahl)
serves 4-6

  • 7 cups of water
  • 2 cups of split yellow mung dal
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp of salt (You will have to add more salt when the dal is done, to your taste.)
  • 2-3 roma tomatoes chopped in small pieces
  • 3-4 cups of chopped spinach
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1/2-1 TB black mustard seeds
  • 1/2-1 TB cumin seeds
  • 1-2 TB minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp corriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala (optional)
  • 1 tsp hing
  • 1 tsp tumeric (or curry powder)
  • black pepper to taste
  1. Bring water to a boil. Add salt, bay leaves and dal. Skim foam off top of dal when it is cooking. Once the dal starts breaking down and becomes soupy (about 20-30 minutes), add spinach and tomatoes and turn down heat.
  2. Chaunce your spices. Heat oil in pan. Add mustard seeds, in about a minute or two, they will begin to pop. Add cumin seeds and brown. Add ginger and red pepper flakes. Add powder spices. Stir and fry for about 30 seconds being careful not burn your chaunce.
  3. Pour chaunce into dal. Stir. Add tumeric (or curry powder), pepper and additional salt. Simmer for a few more minutes. In my opinion, dal gets better when you allow it to simmer for a bit.
  4. To serve, top with chopped cilantro and a hot flat bread. It is traditional to serve over rice, but I like mine more like soup.
Notes: This is a very simple dal and would suit an American's taste buds just fine. You can adjust the spices according to your taste though. Other types of veggies you can use are: diced and fried cauliflower, zucchini, red peppers (fire roasted is good too), pumpkin, butternut squash... go crazy!

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