Creamy red lentil dal

Creamy red lentil dal

Daal is a well know Indian dish, bengali to be exact. It comes in 1001 variations, this one is a red lentil dal. I didn't have any garam massala on hand so I made my own and put the recipe down below.

It's creamy, thick and absolutely delicious on a warm bowl of rice. Even better if topped with a mountain of fresh cilantro and a cooling raita.  

Chili is optional but I woudn't recommend leaving it out, it's not a piping hot dish, it just helps balance everything together. Put just one chili if you're scared it'll be too spicy.

Creamy red lentil dal (serves 4-6) :

  • 350 g red lentils
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2-3 cm fresh ginger
  • 40 cl coconut milk
  • 2 small tomatoes (or 1/2 can crushed tomatoes)
  • 2 dried (or fresh) birds eyes' chilis
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil

For the garam massala :

  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 clove
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

To make the garam massala, toast the cumin, coriander seeds, cardamom and clove in a pan with no fat for about 5 minutes.

Transfer the spices in a mortar and ground it all into a powder.

Mix it with the rest of the spices. Your garam massala is ready.

For the daal, mince the onion, grate the garlic and ginger.

Cube the tomatoes.

In a pot, heat 1 or 2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Add the onions, garlic and ginger. Fry everything for a minute or two.

Add the lentils, spices (cumin and turmeric) and garam massala. Cook for 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and 65 cl of water. Let it simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring regularly.  

Add coconut milk, season with salt and pepper.

Let the daal thicken for a few minutes until it gets creamy.

Sprinkle with fresh cilantro on your plate, serve with rice or rotis.