Dal is an essential part of traditional Indian cuisine, and many regional variations of the dish appear throughout the country. Referencing the lentils or other legumes used in its preparation, the term “dal” actually translates to mean “split” in many Indian languages. It’s eaten throughout the day in India as a main course, often with steamed, fragrant rice and served with a variety of structured breads like chapati or naan.
Dal is incredibly simple to prepare and consists of cooked legumes, cooked grains and spices cooked together in a blend of fragrant broth or water. Although the exact ingredients vary from recipe to recipe, the basic idea is the same: legumes, spices and other ingredients are cooked in liquid to create a delicious, nutritious and comforting dish.
Indian dal has a number of health benefits, as it’s an excellent source of plant-based proteins, calcium, potassium, folate, iron, Vitamin B and various other essential vitamins and minerals. It’s also high in dietary fibre, which is important for stabilizing metabolism and can even reduce constipation. Since it’s made with lentils, dal is also good for vegan and vegetarian diets.
Indian Dal Ingredients:
- 1 cup of dried split lentils
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon of garam masala (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of olive or coconut oil
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Start by soaking the split lentils in hot water first for 10 minutes.
- Drain the water from the lentils and set aside.
- In a large pot, heat the olive or coconut oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cooked for about 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
- Add the bay leaves and all the spices and stir for about 15 seconds.
- Add the soaked lentils to the pot and stir for about 2 minutes to coat the lentils with the spices.
- Add 3 cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 30-35 minutes, until the lentils are cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Adjust the consistency of the dal with extra water if needed and season with salt and black pepper.
- Remove the bay leaves and serve.