The many dals of India differ not only in the lentil used but in the tarka—literally, “seasoning with oil”.
- FOR THE DAL:
- 1/2 lb. imported red lentils (split), picked over and rinsed
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2'' piece ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- FOR THE TARKA:
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
- 3 dried red chiles
- 6–8 fresh or dried curry leaves
- Place lentils in a saucepan with onions, garlic, ginger, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a food mill or food processor and purée, then transfer to a clean saucepan.
- Add 1 cup water and lemon juice, season with salt, then bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until dal is the consistency of thick soup, about 20 minutes. (If thick, add more water; if thin, simmer longer.)
- Just before serving, prepare tarka: Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds, chiles, and curry leaves. Fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer dal to 4 bowls, season with spiced oil, and serve with rice.
- Recipe Credit: Saveur Magazine