About this recipe:I developed this dhal recipe after watching friends cook over the years. It's heavenly served over basmati rice. Don't skip the caramelised onions and garlic - it is what sets this recipe apart!
200g masoor dal or red lentils
150g onion, thinly sliced, divided
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 bay leaf
100g cherry tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 whole fresh serrano or green chillis
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
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Method Prep:15min › Cook:30min › Ready in:45min
Wash the lentils in a sieve. Combine the lentils and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add half of the sliced onions and garlic, reserving the rest for later. Stir in the turmeric, bay leaf, tomatoes and salt. Add the chillies, leaving them whole to add flavour or cut in half to add heat. When the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the lentils break apart and thicken slightly, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the reserved onions; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, and continue cooking and stirring until the onion is very tender and dark brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Stir in the rest of the chopped garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant and tender, about 2 minutes.
Pour the contents of the frying pan into the cooked lentils and stir. Garnish with chopped coriander.
Masoor dal are skinned and split masoor lentils. They're salmon-coloured and cook quickly. Red split lentils in the supermarket are a close equivalent.
As an Indian who makes Dhall often, I use fresh tomatoes if I have them and have used cherry toms if I haven't got the larger ones - the toms are suppose to cook down. I also add a few curry leaves whilst frying. Tinned toms are fine too but fresh ones makes this tastier! Try adding half a teaspoon of cumin seeds first when the oil is hot then add the rest. - 17 Jun 2016
The idea of using fresh garlic and onion on the dhal as you boil it, while frying some to a caramelised state produces a nice fresh flavour and the the caramelised onion gives sweetness. The fresh coriander when serving it gives zing, making it excellent for a straightforward and tasty dhal bhat (dal with rice). I changed the cherry tomatoes for tinned chopped ones as I was not convinced that the expense of the cherry tomatoes made any sense - would the flavour survive 20 minutes of boiling? I doubt it. I also used fresh turmeric as I had some to hand. - 26 May 2016