Goan-style Dal

January 28, 2020
Family Verdict:


  • 200g red lentils, washed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 50g fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 10-15 fresh curry leaves (if available) or 6 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 teaspoon very finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 good-sized clove garlic, crushed to a pulp

  1. Put the dal and 700ml water in a medium pan. Bring to a boil but do not let it boil over. Skim off the froth and add the turmeric. Stir, cover partially, turn heat to very low and simmer gently for 40 minutes. Toward the end of the cooking time, stir and make sure it doesn't threaten to boil dry. But you want most of the water to have been absorbed.
  2. Add the tomatoes, coriander, salt, and cayenne, bring to a simmer , cover and simmer 10 minutes over low heat. Stir and turn off the heat.
  3. Pour the oil into a small frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the mustard and cumin seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, a matter of seconds, add the onions and curry/basil leaves. Stir and fry until the onions start to brown. Now put in the ginger and garlic. Stir for a minute and then empty the contents of the small pan into the pan with the dal. Stir to mix.

This could benefit from some crispy onions or shallots across the top when served, if you have them


"Have you been sick? It looks like you have thrown up!" These were the unpromising comments made as I (somewhat sheepishly, because I thought there was a astrong resemblance too) presented this dish to the Youngest Two one Sunday evening. It's still January and, while we havent managed a complete vegetarian month, we have done pretty well, for probably 60% of meals which is not bad from a standing start.

And this dish acts to summarise some of the issues that we have found. Taste is there in plenty, but the look and mouth feel of a lot of these dishes is just wrong or absent. There is no contrasting texture or anything to chew on. So while I think about how to work on that, let's back to this dish.

It is an Indian dish (obvs) and the southern indians have a deep and rich heritage of vegetarian cooking. This is one of those dishes, made simple by Madhur Jaffrey (in her book Curry Easy). And it is pretty simple - pared back ingredient list but full of flavour.In fact, once the Offspring had overcome their initial reaction and tried this, they actually really liked the flavour - but had residual issues about the lack of texture. We had left overs and I fried up fome pork tenderloin to add to it, which was excellent, if missing the point a little.

I served this with rice and naan, and really liked it. For a dal, it is a tasty one.

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