Dahl (Indian Lentil Soup)


Dahl means lentil in Punjabi, and, while I’m sure there are hundreds of different ways to make Indian lentil soup, I can only promise that this dish is authenticly delicious. It must be made with red lentils (actually orange in colour) since they, unlike other lentils, turn to mush when cooked. This is important for the soup, which is also wonderful served with my naan, and with some cilantro atop the soup for added freshness. If you’re looking to turn this soup into a complete protein, replace 1/2 cup of the lentils with brown rice, and add an additional cup of water. 

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic (2 tbsp)
  • 1 inch ginger (2 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp curry
  • ¼ tsp chili powder (or more to taste – though their fiery heat intensifies with slow cooking)
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups red lentils, rinse until water runs clear
  • 9 cups water
  • Juice of 1 lemon

In a large pan over medium high heat, warm the oil then add the four seeds. Once they start popping (literally), add your onion and sauté for 5 minutes until they are slightly softened. Add your garlic and ginger, and cook another 2 minutes before adding your second batch of spices and the tomato paste. Your kitchen will be filled with the most wonderful aroma. Your pan, however, will become very dry. Stir well for 1 minute then add the lentils and water, cover the pot, and raise the heat. Once the mixture has reached a boil, turn the heat down and allow to simmer for 40 minutes or until the lentils are completely cooked through.

If desired, wooj (mix) with a hand immersion blender for a smoother texture, or blend in batches. Season very generously with salt and lemon juice. It’s important to not add salt until the lentils are cooked through, since doing so prevents them from softening.



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