Weekly Winner: Entering the Weird and Wonderful World of Dal

The more Indian food I try, the more I learn about it which makes me realize that I love Indian food, which makes me want to try more Indian food which puts me in this exhausting, never-ending, delicious cycle of discovery. Which brings me to this week’s entry Spiced Dal with Fluffy Rice and Salted Yogurt.

I have heard of dal but honestly was not entirely sure what it was. Come to find out it is both the dish itself and the ingredients that go into it. Dal refers to any pulses (lentils, beans, etc) that are simmered with spices and other goodies into luscious goodness. That final dish is also called Dal. I found this recipe in Bon Appetit and the look and the sound of the dish immediately intrigued me.  But then I became confused because it was featured in an article entitled “Healthy-ish”. Really? This is about as healthy as I eat — no “ish” about it. There is absolutely nothing to feel guilty about in this recipe and its filling enough you really can’t eat too much of it.

But its weird. Make no mistake, this is not your usual Tuesday lunch. The flavors shouldn’t go together but they do. You have the earthy, spiced (but not spicy) dal itself (in this case yellow split-peas) with the sweet, pickly red onions and topped with salted plain yogurt. Seriously weird. Seriously wonderful. This, darling, was a darn delicious dal.

Spiced Dal with Fluffy Rice and Salted Yogurt

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp ghee, virgin coconut oil, or vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 2″ piece ginger, peeled, finely grated

2 garlic cloves, finely grated

1-1/2 cups yellow split peas, rinsed

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

1 lime

1 small red onion, very thinly sliced into rounds, rinsed

Pinch of sugar

1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt

Cooked Jasmine or basmati rice (for serving)

Freshly ground black pepper

Procedure:

  • Heat Ghee in a medium pot over medium-high. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned around the edges, 5-7 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring often, just to take the edge off the garlic, about 30 seconds. Add 1/3 cup water and simmer, stirring occasionally, until water evaporates, about 1 minute.
  • Add split peas, coriander, turmeric, cardamom and the red pepper flakes and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, tunic split peas are very tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 12-14 minutes. Season with salt. Cover with a lid and keep dal warm over low heat while you make the toppings.
  • Finely grate zest from lime into a small bowl. Cut lime in half and squeeze juice into bowl (you’ll have about 2 Tbsp). Add red onion, sugar, and a large pinch of salt and toss, squeezing onion with your hands to help it soften quickly.
  • Mix yogurt with 2 Tbsp water in a small bowl; season with salt.
  • Serve dal over rice drizzled with salty yogurt and topped with onion and pepper.