Indian food is awesome, but it can be intimidating for home cooks with all of its exotic spices, ingredients, and sauces. Also, there’s the perennial issue: will the kids eat it? Here I adapt a simple recipe for dal from Julie Sahni’s Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking. My kids are warming up to it, and it’s the perfect dish to serve your vegan friends, or keep on hand for lunch as it will live in your fridge for days. Pair it with naan or any kind of brown rice, and kachumbar salad (recipe below).
For the dal itself, use any mixture of small red lentils, large brown lentils, and yellow split peas, equaling 2 cups. Avoid more than about 1/2 c of the brown lentils unless you want the dal more chunky. (Also, 2 c makes quite a lot–you might scale back to 1 or 1 1/2 c total, adjusting water.) Rinse and simmer the lentils in a large pot with 5-6 c of water and 1/2-1 t turmeric. The water amount is way inexact, and after the lentils start breaking down around 20-30 minutes out, stir and see whether you have a nice creamy mash, or whether it’s getting gluey and needs more liquid. The lentils continue to suck in liquid as they cool, so you have to add water liberally as needed. Be careful not to turn the thing into soup, though. When they’re done and a nice creamy consistency, stir in salt and pepper to taste. [Read more…]