Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Masoor Dal with Winter Vegetables

It is the dead of winter in northern Ontario and it has been very cold outside.  Lately I have been making a lot of soups and stews.  I love making Dal and this recipe allows me to use my garden foods from last summer like potatoes, onions, garlic, dried chiles, frozen tomatoes and cilantro.  Dal is a favourite dish of mine winter or summer.

Some say chili.... I say chile!  As far as I know in the culinary world they are both correct.  You will also see Dal spelt dahl ... that link goes to Wikipedia.

Although a lot of foods do well simmered in the slow cooker I have tried it with dal and it is best made on stove-top.

Basically it is curried lentils and there are many kinds of lentils and beans used to make it.  I have been told that dal is cooked in most homes in India in one form or another.  When eaten with rice it provides complete protein.  Masoor Dal is made with the split red lentils which become a pale yellow when cooked.  I am using butter instead of ghee as we can't buy ghee where we live and I don't think most people would take the time, to make it.

I have been making this particular dal recipe since I was in my early 20's living in Toronto.  Peggy Patterson gave me the recipe.  We hooked up a few years ago and she doesn't remember where the recipe came from and was glad I reminded her of it!  I have tried many others but I do think this one is the best recipes.  I think it is quite authentic as I have had people from India and Bhutan eat it and they have given rave reviews!  Leftover dal can be served cold  like hummus with your favourite bread, crackers and vegetable dippers.  It makes a a really great appetizer served this way.

This recipe serves 4-6 people with rice as a vegetarian main course.  I makes about 10 servings when it is served as part of an Indian meal.

Metric Measure
1 cup
250 ml
Lentils, red, dry
6 cup
1.5 liters
Water, cold
½ tsp
2.5 ml
Turmeric, ground
2 each
Potatoes, with skin, diced
2 each
Tomatoes, fresh, chopped (or approx 2 cup canned/frozen, a bit of the liquid is fine)
1 ½ tsp
7.5 ml
Salt, sea
1 tsp
5 ml
Cumin seed, whole (sub ground if needed)
3 Tbsp
45 ml
Cilantro, fresh, chopped
2 Tbsp
30 ml
Chile peppers, red, hot, fresh, chopped
2 Tbsp
30 ml
Butter, preferably organic (vegan =  a good oil of your choice)
4 each
Garlic, cloves, minced
1 cup
250 ml
Onion, raw, diced
1 tsp
5 ml
Garam masala, ground
1 Tbsp
15 ml
Butter, preferably organic (vegan =  a good oil of your choice)
1 Tbsp
15 ml
Lime juice, from fresh

1.  Wash red lentils in a sieve under cold running water until water runs clear.  Drain.  Add to large soup pot with turmeric and water, cover and boil until tender and soft - about 20 minutes.

2.  Wash and dice potatoes (skin on).  Dice fresh tomatoes - it doesn't matter how well as they break down during cooking.  You can also used canned or your frozen tomatoes.  I used my frozen ones.  Add with the salt and cumin to the pot and simmer until potatoes are just tender.

3.  Add minced cilantro and minced hot chiles. If you are not a fan of hot food you can substitute a tablespoon or less of our "chili powder."  It won't be authentic, but hey, you are making food to suit your taste.

Below I am showing cilantro growing in my north east window last March.  You can start it early in the house.  I think the cilantro I grow indoors does way better than outside in hotter months.  When I have a big crop I freeze it in zip lock bags so I can shred it and add to dishes during the off-season.

Some of the pretty red hot chiles I grew and dried from last summer are shown below.

4.  Heat butter and fry garlic and onion until golden.  Stir in garam marsala and fry another 2 minutes.  Pour over Dal and mix well.  Top with butter and lime juice.  This last amount of butter is optional.

Garam marsala is a mixture of spices which typically include black cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom pods.   You buy it as a spice blend at Indian food stores.  There is no good substitute but you can make do with a 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon each of ground cumin, black pepper, clove and cinnamon.  The cardamom again needs to be picked up in a specialty food store.  If you do have ground cardamom you can add a bit of that.  I have seen recipes that just use curry powder instead of garam masala but it isn't as good.

Nutrition Facts (per 240 g serving – makes approx 10)

Total Fat (g)
Saturated Fat (g)
Cholesterol (mg)
Carbohydrate (g)
Fibre (g)
Sugar (g)
Protein (g)
%Daily Values
(400 mg)
Vitamin A
Vitamin C


Tastefully yours,
© Nancy Guppy, RD, MHSc
Chapman's Landing Cooking Studio
My next cooking class at Chapman's Landing is "I’m a Slow Cooker” on Saturday February 5th.  Please see my menu and register online.

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