Dal, or lentil soup, is a traditional Indian dish that’s one of my go-tos for a lot of reasons. First, it’s simple to make. Check. Second, it has a lot to offer in the flavor department. And third, it seems more complicated than it is—and this is the best part.
The most expensive food that you can buy today is back-to-basics food. Organic, farm-to-table restaurants are all the rage, and people are willing to pay out the nose for food that people made when they were impoverished. Seriously, the most expensive restaurants in London right now are the ones serving glamorized traditional English fare—all of the scraps on the butcher’s floor baked into a pie with some carrots. Peasant food is the new rich food.
Dal fits into this category. It’s filling, nutritious and if spiced correctly presents itself as a very fancy meal. But it’s cheap and basically cooks itself. Oh, and it’s vegetarian too. Wins all around.
What you’ll need:
A large soup pot
1 medium-sized yellow or Spanish onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots or two handfuls baby carrots cut into small pieces
2 tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil or butter
1 cup lentils (I used red, but any variety should work)
4 cups water or vegetable broth (If you’re using vegetable broth, pick a low-sodium variety and skip adding any additional salt)
1 tbsp. curry powder
dash chili powder, or more to taste
a pinch of salt
What to do:
1. Start with the olive oil in the pot on medium heat. Add the diced onion, garlic, and spices. It should be fragrant almost immediately.
2. Add the carrots and the lentils. Stir to coat.
3. Add the water or stock. Let it boil on medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure to taste it about halfway through to make sure that the spicing is to your liking.
4. Add the tomatoes and let boil for another 10 minutes.
The soup should be watery enough that it’s not pasty, and the lentils should melt in your mouth when you take a bite. You can serve dal on its own in a bowl or over rice or potatoes.
Here’s to warm, cozy recipes to kick off November!