Dahl is a spicy lentil stew made with red or orange lentils. Unlike the green or brown larger-sized lentils which are purchased unprocessed and can be sprouted (see recipes), the red or orange lentils are available processed (dehulled, split, and polished) so they will not sprout. They can still be soaked overnight and rinsed well before cooking to reduce some of the anti-nutrients naturally occurring in legumes. They cook quickly because of the processing and soaking.
Usually served with basmati rice, dahl is also good with steamed vegetables and/or some kind of bread. The spices are warming and anti-inflammatory and the dish is very nourishing. I found organic orange lentils at our co-op and was excited to make a pot of dahl on a chilly, overcast Spring day. Make enough for leftovers as it is still very good re-heated.
Makes 6 servings
2 cups dry red or orange lentils, preferably organic, soaked in 2 quarts of water overnight, rinsed very well in a strainer, and drained
2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp ghee
4 Tbsp. grated, fresh ginger (peeled first)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth and 3 cups of water, or 6 cups of water
6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and crushed through garlic press
2 tsp. ground turmeric
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 to 1 tsp. ground cayenne (optional)
salt to taste
fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnishing (optional)
Melt 1/4 cup of the ghee in a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 5 minutes. Add the ginger, turmeric, and 3 cloves of the garlic (crushed) and stir over medium heat for another minute or two–don’t let the garlic brown. Carefully pour in the broth or water and add the lentils. Stir well and increase heat to bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer under a cracked lid stirring occasionally. Allow to simmer for an hour or until it reduces to the consistency you desire.
About fifteen minutes before serving, melt the remaining 1 Tbsp ghee in a small sauce pan. Add the cumin and cayenne if desired and saute over medium heat for a few minutes while stirring. Add the remaining 3 cloves of crushed garlic and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Use a potato masher to pulverize the lentil mixture to a creamy consistency (or use an immersion blender). Add the cumin/garlic mixture and stir well. Salt to taste and add more cayenne if desired. Spoon into bowls over brown basmati rice or steamed vegetables and garnish with cilantro if desired.