Cooking with Alison

Tarka Dall (lentils)

In Indian on October 24, 2010 at am

I’ve been wanting to incorporate more beans and lentils (legumes) into my diet for a long time now.  They’re high in nutrients and fiber, they’re cost-efficient, and they’re available year round.  This is my recreation of a local (Kingston, ON) Indian restaurant’s version of tarka dall – a pureed lentil side dish.  See here for tips on how to get the most flavour out of your Indian spices.

Tarka Dall Recipe

200 g dried mung dal (yellow split lentils)

3 cups of water (or use half water and half chicken broth/vegetable broth if you want more flavour)

1 small onion, chopped into quarters

3 cloves garlic

1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger (I use a Microplane coarse grater)

3 tablespoons ghee (recipe here)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

1/4 tsp mustard seeds

coarse salt

Optional for garnish:  handful of fresh cilantro, chopped OR very thin slices of onion pan fried in ghee or oil until crispy

Rinse the lentils well under cold running water and then soak in water at least over night.  (Note: I’ve made this with pre-soaked and unsoaked lentils and I found that soaking lentils results in a much smoother texture.)  Drain and rinse again.  Bring the water (and broth if using) to a boil in a heavy bottomed medium sized pot (I use a ceramic dutch oven).  Add the lentils and bring to a boil again.  If you didn’t use broth, add a large pinch of salt.  Then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes until the lentils are broken and very soft.  Meanwhile, use a food processor to shred the onion and garlic.  In a small pan, melt the ghee over medium high heat and cook the onion, garlic, and ginger until they brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the spices and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.  When the lentils are done, remove from heat.  Using a hand held immersion blender, puree the lentils until very smooth and thickened.  If you desire a thinner consistency, add more water.  Adjust salt to taste.  Mix the spice mixture into the lentils.  Garnish with fresh coriander and/or fried onions.  Serve hot with rice or naan.  When making Indian food, I like to throw a few cardamom pods in with the water that I use to cook the rice.

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