Daal is a staple side dish in every Pakistani home. Abound with many variations, this one, made with red lentils (laal Masoor) is my quickest and easiest version to make. I often make a batch and freeze some for future meals so this is the perfect meal prep recipe too!
What you need to make red lentil daal
- Red lentils or laal masoor daal. I don’t presoak red lentils but you can if you get gassy and bloated when you eat daal. This is because of the high fiber content in lentils. Lentils also contain FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) These are short-chain carbohydrates that escape digestion and then get fermented by gut bacteria in the colon. This then is what produces gas and or bloating. Presoaking for 30 minutes – 2 hours should help.
- Spices like red chili powder, turmeric ( not only the health benefits but for that beautiful yellow color!), whole cumin, dried red chilies and curry leaves.
- Garlic I like them sliced but you can use minced garlic too.
- Ghee for a vegan version, use neutral oil like avocado or olive oil.
How to make daal
Like I said earlier there are many ways one can make daal. I sometimes add tomatoes while boiling the lentils and even do a tempering with onion and other spices.
For this version we will wash and drain the lentils and cook them in water. Bring to a boil on medium high heat. Once you see white scum rise to the top, remove it and continue to cook, reducing the heat to medium low. Removing scum is optional but I would highly recommend it. I find that the it tastes less starchy if that makes sense.
Cook the lentils covered for about 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes are over, remove the lid and check to see if any adjustments to the salt and or the consistency need to be made. The daal will be mushy and easily mashed with the back of a spoon. Lower to a simmer at this time and let the daal reduce to your desired consistency while you prepare the tarka or tempering.
In a small pan add oil and let it heat up. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the cumin, dried red chilies and whole cumin seeds. Stir till nicely coated and saute about 30 seconds, now add the sliced garlic and saute another 30-60 seconds till the garlic gets a golden brown color.Pour the whole concoction into the pot of cooked lentils and cover.Let the daal simmer on low flame while the tempered oil infuses with it about 2-3 minutes.
Once ready to eat, give the daal a good stir to combine everything and optionally garnish with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.
How I eat daal
I often enjoy daal with white or brown rice and a side salad of cucumbers, onions and tomatoes. Sometimes I’ll eat it as soup with some gluten free crackers.
Here’s more plant based inspo from my Meatless Monday Series:
If you try this recipe, I’d love to know how it worked out for you! Be sure to come back and let me know how it went in the comments below!
- 2 cup red lentils, washed and drained
- 3 cups water (an inch above the lentils)
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- For the Bagaar (Tempered Oil)
- 3 tablespoons neutral oil
- 2 cloves garlic (sliced)
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin
- 3-4 whole red chilies (dried)
- 10 curry leaves
- Wash the lentils thoroughly till the water runs clear, drain any excess water and add to a medium sized pot.
- Add fresh water, put on medium high heat and add salt, turmeric powder and red chili powder.
- Stir to incorporate the spices, and bring the lentils to a boil, uncovered.
- Once they come to a boil, remove any white scum that rises to the top and lower the heat to a medium low.
- Cover the pot and let cook for 30 minutes.
- When ready the daal will have softened and can easily be mashed with the back of a spoon. Alternatively you can use an immersion blender to achieve a smoother consistency.
- At this point you can add more water to get your desired consistency or dry out some water to make the daal thicker. Taste the daal and adjust the salt.
- Then let the daal simmer uncovered while you prepare the tarka (tempering).
- In a small pan add oil and let it heat up. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the cumin, dried red chilies and whole cumin seeds.
- Stir till nicely coated and saute about 30 seconds, now add the sliced garlic and saute another 30-60 seconds till the garlic gets to a golden brown color.
- Pour the whole concoction into the pot of cooked lentils and cover.
- Let the daal simmer on low flame while the tempered oil infuses with it about 2-3 minutes.
- Once ready to eat, give the daal a good stir to combine everything and optionally garnish with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.
- Enjoy with white or brown rice and a side salad of cucumbers, onions and tomatoes.
- Any leftovers can be reheated and served the next day, in fact this versatile dish keeps for up to a week. I have often treated it like soup. Just add some water to thin it out a little when reheating.