Here in Wisconsin we get a little antsy by the time February comes rolling around. We call it cabin fever and want nothing more to do than get out of the house . I’m trying to fight off the feeling this weekend by cooking up a storm and filling up my freezer for the remaining weeks ahead.
This is a recipe request from one of my Facebook fans that we’re making this weekend. Dal is the quintessential Indian comfort food, the best split pea soup you’ve ever had without the ham. The spices in this version give it a depth that simpler dal’s don’t have, and it’s ridiculously simple to make.
(Adapted from Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran)
2 cups yellow lentils, picked over, washed and drained
(any type of lentil will work, our favorite ones are the yellow)
1 teaspoon tumeric
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
8 cups water
4 whole dried red chiles
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 fresh hot green chiles, minced
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
5 tablespoons canola oil
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime or lemon
1. Put lentils into large saucepan with the tumeric, salt, and water. Bring to a boil and skim well. Reduce the heat and simmer (covered) until the lentils are soft, 20-30 minutes. Add water during cooking if necessary. Taste for salt and add more if you need to.
2. Ladle about a cup of cooked lentils into a bowl and mash with a spoon. Return the mashed lentils to the pot and give the dal a stir. Continue cooking at a simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes to thicken. If you like a thicker dal use a whisk to break up the lentils into a puree. For a thinner dal, add water.
3. For the tempering oil, heat the oil with the cumin seeds in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring until the cumin turns a light brown color (1-2 minutes). Add the dried chiles, ginger, garlic, and green chiles and cook, stirring, until the garlic no longer smells raw and turns a golden brown color (about 30 seconds). Remove the pan from the heat and add the cayenne.
4. Stir half of the tempering oil 1/2 of the cilantro, and all of the lime or lemon juice into the dal. Simmer very gently uncovered for 5 minutes.
5. Transfer the dal to a serving bowl and pour the remaining tempering oil over the top, sprinkle with cilantro.
Makes 8 servings. Freezes well.