Dal is a staple of Indian cuisine and can be found in virtually every Indian household. Like an Italian grandmother’s red sauce recipe, each family has it’s own version with special twists here and there. I’m thrilled to be sharing my family’s dal recipe. It’s my mother’s recipe, and I have made a few adjustments (cutting back on the oil and the spice for my kiddos!). Unlike much of the heavy restaurant fare many people are used to when it comes to Indian cuisine, this dal is intensely flavorful while at the same time quite light. Fresh curry leaves, ginger, spices, and punch of citrus will leave you wanting this dal week after week.
- 1 cup yellow mung dal
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 teaspoon dried, black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried cumin seeds
- 5 - 8 fresh curry leaves
- 3 small plum tomatoes, diced
- 1 teaspoon ground dhana jeera
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 to 1 teaspoon ground red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 inch fresh ginger peeled and sliced
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- chopped fresh cilantro
- Thoroughly rinse and drain the dal. In a bowl, cover with about an inch of water and let soak for 20 to 30 minutes.
- While the dal is soaking, prep the remaining ingredients.
- Drain the dal and transfer to a medium sized pot. Add enough water to cover about an inch above the dal.
- Simmer on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the dal is tender and almost cooked through. Skim off any scum that may form as the dal is cooking.
- When the dal is almost cooked through, begin your vagar. In a small pan, warm the oil. Once the oil has warmed, add the mustard and cumin seeds (they should "pop" a bit, so be careful of any splatter!).
- Add the fresh curry leaves followed by the chopped tomatoes. Once the tomatoes have cooked down a bit (about 5 minutes), add the remaining spices (including salt), ginger, and lemon juice. Let simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Pour the vagar mixture into your nearly cooked dal. Stir to combine and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add in the chopped cilantro.
- Serve over steaming rice and alongside your favorite Indian vegetables.
I hope you enjoy this dal and I’d love to hear about the recipes that are at the center piece of your family.