The Soul Satisfying Dal and a mention on Peri’s Spice Ladle.

Very often, a small appreciation and an encouraging word from a friend or loved one can help you get your mojo back. Both happened to me yesterday. Let me tell you how.

My last post on the ‘how to cook that series‘ was almost a month ago. I did try to write in the interim. I cooked and clicked, but somehow, my laptops keyboard and my mind were not on talking terms. I tried writing, but thoughts just didn’t become words. As I sat wondering what to do, my phone notifies me of an new post from one of my favorite blogs, Peri’s Spice Ladle. The title was intriguing. The post was very different from what Peri usually writes. It was a post where she writes about a few of her favorite bloggers. Well, I was chuffed to see my name featured there. Peri’s words just about motivated me to write. Then towards the evening, I was generally chatting with a close friend who reminded me that my last post was about a month ago and that I should write immediately. It felt nice to hear someone egging you on to blog. And so, here I am all set to begin and I promise to write more often.

So what did I make? Well, I made something that is present in almost every lunch and dinner. The humble dal. In terms of Indian cuisine, the dal is one dish that has a dichotomy to it. It is simple to make yet has a certain sanctity to it. So, one might ask. What is it about the dal that makes it so special. Almost everything I’d say.

Want something comforting at the end of a long working day- come home to bowl of soul-ful dal

Convalescing from an illness-  Doctor recommends dal

Feeling like eating something warm on a cold winters day- try the dal

I can go on and on about the role and importance of dal in Indian cuisine. But that’s not the point. The point here is about a dish that we can safely say is like a ‘One size fits all’ and that is what makes it special. I have had the good fortune of travelling across the country and believe me I have never seen a dal being repeated in terms of taste and texture. If I was seduced by the rich kaali (black) dal of the north, the Mangalorean dalitoy had me weak kneed, then cholar dal of Bengal had me intrigued with the complexity of flavours. See, that is what dal does to you. Once you boil the lentils, its almost like an open canvas use your imagination and play with the sweet and sour flavours or go on add any vegetables that you may like. The marriage will work. My word.

Today’s recipe then is found in most restaurants. Though personally, I find its made better in the warm comfort of home. The Lehsuni Dal. Simple dal cooked with minimal ingredients and flavored with sauteed garlic. Paired with stemed rice and a dollop of your favorite pickle. Hmmmm… Gourmet deconstructed.

Lehsuni Dal

Lehsuni Dal.

Ingredients for the dal.

  • 200 grams, yellow lentils (commonly called toor dal)
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 3 medium chillies, sliced
  • 2 small tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 small piece of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Salt- to taste
  • 400 ml water

Ingredients for the tempering

  • 3 tablespoons oil (or ghee if your feeling indulgent)
  • 10 pods of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 large red chilli (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon, cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon, mustard seeds
  • 1 small sprig of curry leaves.
  • 2 small sprigs of corriander leaves- for garnishing


  • Wash the dal under running water until the water runs clear.
  • Next, combine all ingredients mentioned under the heading ‘ingredients for dal’ in a pressure cooker and cook on a medium flame till you hear about 3 whistles. This should take roughly about 15 minutes.
  • Once done, take off the heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Then use a spoon and roughly mash up the lentils.
  • For the tempering, heat oil in a sufficiently large pan and add the curry leaves and the mustard seeds. Once the seeds start spluttering, add the red chilli, cumin and garlic. Stir gently till the garlic gets slightly brown. Don’t over do this as the garlic may get bitter.
  • Then, slowly add in the cooked dal and stir till the dal has begun to simmer.
  • Check for seasoning, garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice, roti or phulkas.