Dal is a quintessentially creamy and comforting Indian curry that celebrates the mighty lentil. Toasted Indian spices, tomatoes and coconut milk simmer into a beautiful golden stew that will warm your soul and lift your spirits. My beloved Indian lentil dal is all about the toppings. Chili-garlic oil, tangy cucumber raita, and fresh herbs are a must. Most importantly, in my house, garlic naan should be fried in ghee until golden brown and generously seasoned with salt.
Made with a handful of humble ingredients, dal the perfect meal to have in your back pocket when both groceries and inspiration is low.
This take on dal is short of the effort and long on flavour. A few final additions (ghee and fish sauce) stirred in at the end aren’t traditional, but a fun way to crank up the sumptuousness.
Cozy Potato Dal
- 2 cups red lentils uncooked
- 1 395 ml can coconut milk full fat
- 1 kg baby potatoes skins on
- 1 yellow onion, small diced
- 1 tomato, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp curry powder, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala
Optional (to finish)
- 1 tbsp fish sauce/tamari (for extra umami and depth)
- 1 tbsp ghee/butter (for extra richness)
- fresh cilantro
- chili-garlic oil
- toasted naan bread
- basmati rice
Start the Dal
- In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook on medium-low for 6-8, stirring occasionally, until tender and slightly golden.
- Add tomato, tomato paste, ginger, garlic, and spices. Cook for 3-4 min, stirring well to toast spices.
- Stir in water, lentils and coconut milk. Bring to a boil over high heat. Use a spatula to scrape off any stuck-on bits on the bottom of the pot. Season with 2 tsp salt (or more to taste) and plenty of cracked pepper.
- Cover and simmer on medium low for 10-12 min, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Add a 1/4 cup or more of water if it looks too thick.
- Meanwhile, in a medium pot, add potatoes and cover with 1-inch of warm water. Season with 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 14-16 min, until very tender. Drain and set aside.
Finish the Dal
- When the dal has thickened and the lentils are tender, stir potatoes into dal. For smaller chunks of potatoes, use a spatula or wooden spoon to gently break up the potatoes into the curry.
- Stir in fish sauce* and ghee** (if using) Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed.
- Serve dal with any or all of the suggested toppings. Dal will keep well, refrigerated for 5 days, or frozen up to 3 months.
Photography by Jocelynne Flor.
Recipe By Meredith Youngson | Earth & Oven