Red lentils a.k.a Daal

This is my variation on good'ol daal! the measures below will serve 4-6 people, can be served with any kind of bread (goes well with a brioche bun) or rice (Basmati of course!).


For the lentils (dal)

  • 500g masoor dal (red lentils),

  • water (as needed),

  • generous 1 tsp turmeric powder

  • 1/2 tsp of chili powder

  • 1 star anis

  • 1 large onion, sliced into thin rings

  • 2-3 curry leaves

  • 1 whole star anise

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped up,

  • small piece of ginger, peeled, minced

  • 4 large medium tomatoes, thick sliced

  • 2 green chilies, (optional)

  • 1/2 tbsp Ghee (or vegetable oil)

  • Salt

For the bhagaar (tempering):

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

  • 1/8 tsp fennel seeds

  • 4-5 dried red chillies

  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 1 tbsp Ghee (or vegetable oil)

Method...How to...

With the Lentils

Put the lentils in a pot and wash them a number of times (you dont really need a sieves or strainers), move to a bowl, cover with water and let soak for while you get the rest of the ingredients prepared (if you have the time let them soak for 20-30 minutes.. not a must do).

In a large saucepan, add 1/2 tbsp Ghee, once the ghee melts and heats up add the onions, sliced garlic and minced ginger. Turn the heat down and let it simmer on a gentle flame while you add a whole Star Anis, then half the chopped up tomatoes, give it a gentle stir and let it simmer whilst you get the lentils.

Now drain most of the water from the bowl of soaked lentils and add the lentils to the pot, stir (put some elbow grease into it and mix it all up).

Now add enough water to the pot to submerge the lentils but not completely. Now add the curry leaves, the rest of the chopped up tomatoes and stir a few times so that its' all mixed up again.Now add more water -  this time you're looking to submerge the lentils completely, the water should stand +/- 3-5 mm on top of the lentils.

Now add a generous teaspoon of turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon or less of chili powder to the pot and gently mix. Be mindful we are not adding salt yet... this is critical.

Now bring the pot to boil over high heat, once it's nicely bubbling up turn the heat right down, cover the pot with a lid and gently simmer until the lentils are tender, this should take about 30-40 minutes.

Check occasionally and if it looks like it's getting a bit too dry up top, then add some water (so everything stays submerged-ish).After about 30 odd mins the lentils should be tender and easy to disintegrate - grab some in a tea-spoon and check it out.

Now stir the pot, put some elbow grease into it and the lentils broth/soup -  that thing it has become! Whilst doing this add salt to taste -  make sure the lentils are tender and done before you add the salt.

For the tempering oil (bhagaar)

Have all your bhagaar ingredients ready because this will flow pretty fast!In a small pan/frying pan, over a high flame, heat 1 tablespoon of Ghee, once the oil is hot (check with a single cumin seed), add the 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves, give them 10-15 secs to fry up, then add, the 4-5 dried red chillies, 5-7 secs to fry up, then add the 1 tsp cumin seeds and 1/8 tsp fennel seeds -  cover the pot - it should be getting sizzling in there! give it all 10-15 secs to cook together. Don't let them burn. 

Now pour the Ghee/bhagaar mixture into the lentils pot and cover up immediately. Standing back as you do it as the bhagaar mixture and the lentils will have a heated union!

You're all done... Enjoy!