Sunday, October 21, 2012

Masoor Dal (Soupish Red Lentils) for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

The first time that I cooked with split red lentils, many moons ago, I was surprised at how quickly they lost their shape and that they turned more of a yellow-ish orange. I wasn't sure I liked the texture--preferring the sturdier brown and green varieties. They grew on me though and I came to love them for how quickly they cook and how good they are. 

In this case, lightly spiced in Masoor Dal, the turmeric gives them even more of a yellow hue and their flavor is enhanced by the smoky cumin seeds, hot red chilies and leek-onion essence of the asafoetida (a spice that doesn't get that much use in my kitchen so I like coming across dishes that use it). Does dal qualify for Souper Sundays? Sure, it is a thick, Indian stew. Served with some basmati rice, it fills the kitchen with a rich, exotic aroma in no time and makes a healthy, filling dinner.   

Masoor Dal (Split Red Lentils)
From 100 Weeknight Curries by Madhur Jaffrey
(Serves 6-8 very small side dish servings)

350 g (12oz) split red lentils (masoor dal)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/4-1 1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
generous pinch of ground asafoetida
1 tsp cumin seeds
3-5 dried hot red chillies

Pick over lentils for any grit. Place them in a bowl and wash in several changes of water. Drain the lentils and out them in a heavy-based pan with 1.2 litres (2 pints) water and the turmeric. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook the lentils over low heat for 35-40 minutes or until the lentils are tender, stirring occasionally.

Add the salt to the lentils, mix and leave covered over low heat. Heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a frying pan over fairly high heat and, when hot, add the asafoetida followed by the cumin seeds. Let the cumin seeds sizzle for a few seconds and then add the chillies. As soon as they turn dark red--this takes just a few seconds--pour the contents of the frying pan into the lentils and mix.

Notes/Results: This is simple hearty fare but the flavors are clear and strong. The toasted cumin comes out the most, but the asafoetida adds a little something that makes it unique. Use less chillies and leave them whole it you want it mild, more and break them up for the heat. I find that this dal shines with a squeeze of lemon to enhance and brighten the other ingredients. An easy, relatively quick warming dinner that I would make again.

We are showing our Lentil Love! at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week. You can check out all the different lentil dishes everyone made by following the post links. 

Let's take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen where we have some great dishes waiting.

My pal Heather of girlichef brings a hearty slow cooker Spicy White Chicken Chili with her this week and says, "This is one of those meals that I want to come home to after "a day".  Warm, comforting, and spicy enough to give me a big ol' kick in the batootie.  You know, so I can get motivated to do everything around the house that didn't get done during the day while I was out. ... This chili is seriously spicy. If you like a lower heat level, reduce the amount of chile powder and/or jalapeños."

Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe is back this week with this nourishing Sweet Potato, Silverbeet and Black Bean Soup. She says, "Last week I made pumpkin scrolls (more about them later).  With a filling dessert, I decided a simple stew was all I needed for dinner.  I had sweet potato roasting in the oven, a tin of black beans in the pantry and silverbeet in the garden. ... With the soup, the bad news was that there was too much silverbeet for E.  The good news was that he only had it one night.  I had it two nights in a row and really enjoyed it.  It came together quickly and meant I could eat more pumpkin scrolls!"

Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food made a healthy Nagaimo (Mountain Yam), Mushrooms, Tofu Soymilk-Based Soup and says, "This is a nourishing one-pot dish packed with proteins (mushrooms and tofu) and fiber (mountain yam - Nagaimo and celery) adapted from a TV programme. The show particularly highlighted the benefits of mountain yam - Nagaimo and the host-cum-cook used soy milk (in replacement of water) for the added nourishment, as the cooking broth."

Joanne of Eats Well With Others made a rough day better with this Kabocha Lentil Soup. Joanne says, "As you can see I'm full of grievances today. Rifling through every inch of your apartment looking for paperwork you probably never had to begin with will do that to a girl. A night filled with that much clutter can be made better by only one thing. Soup.  And fritters, in this case. A warm and hearty lentil winter squash soup, to be precise, paired with what are essentially savory zucchini pancakes and a hearty slice of Italian bread.  No fire safety certification necessary. Win."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog made this crunchy Cranberry, Apple and Cashew Broccoli Slaw and says, "This nutritious cranberry, apple, cashew broccoli slaw is easy to make, looks really pretty, and tastes sensational. Ok , I confess that the raw cranberries in the salad are really tart, but I only used a handful for color in the salad,  and I like the  tartness .. Also, the tartness is balanced by the sweet raisins and the raw honey in the dressing. This could make a great salad for Thanksgiving, especially if you are looking for a raw dish or are vegan."

Our sandwich offering this week comes from Janet of The Taste Space with this Smashed Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich with Lime and Cilantro. She says, "Like a souped up guacamole, this combined both of my versions. Chunky like my pineapple and cucumber guacamole but ramped up with chickpeas like my edamame guacamole. Filled with fresh cilantro, a zip from green onions and citrus tang from lime, this worked really well. You could use this as a dip with big crackers. Or slather it onto your next sandwich or wrap. Whatever you decide, you know it will be a tasty spread."

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week! If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. I was SO surprised the first time I cooked with red lentils. And a bit bummed out...they were so pretty when they were dried. ;P This soup sounds fantastic, very warming and comforting.

  2. I love red lentils. They are so versatile and work really well with Indian flavours. I love how yours is so simple! :) Thanks for another great round-up, Deb!

  3. teczcape.blogspot.comOctober 21, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    The warmth and spice of this dal dish is so comforting.

  4. I agree...dal definitely counts as soup! And red lentils are one of my favorite lentils! I was iffy on the texture too at first...perhaps it's just an acquired taste. :)

  5. I tried my first lentil dish back when we were cooking with Bittman and loved it instantly. Something about lentils feels so comforting. Love how you sprinkled those lentils into the background. I had a hard time trying to get a good picture of my lentils. Wished I would've thought of doing that ;-)

  6. This reminded me that I haven't made Dal in forever. This sounds so good for the weather we are having right now. Great round up!

  7. Beautiful! I love how quick they cook too - and that chili looks like a smile. ☺

  8. hi folks just moved to Honolulu. Where can I buy red lentils in Hawaii

  9. Hi London, Welcome! ;-) Not sure where you are living in Honolulu but there are several places you can buy them. I mostly get them in the bulk bins at natural foods stores but I have seen them in Safeway before. Whole Foods Kahala or Kailua, Kale's Natural Foods, Down to Earth, Kokua Market (co-op), Indian Bazaar all have them. Aloha, Deb


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