Here at the retreat centre, a warm bowl of Dahl, rice, and Subji (stir-fried seasoned veggies) is a weekly favorite. Dahl, which means Lentils or legume, can be done so many ways with so many different varieties of “dahl”, but I have developed my own standard technique and combo of ingredients that always hits the spot, be it on a frosty winter day or hot summer lunch.
The tastiest trick used in this recipe is called “tempering”, gently frying a blend of seasonings in oil before stirring it all in to the cooked lentils. Depth of flavour is the name of the game, and this recipe packs plenty of it, along with a healthy dose of plant-based protein and healing herbs.
4 cups Split Red Lentils (other type of lentils is fine)
9-10 cups Water
3-6 cloves Garlic, finely choped (based on garlicy preference)
2 inches fresh Ginger root, finely chopped
1 small-medium onion, finely chopped
**optional** 1 can coconut cream
1/4-1/3 cup Coconut Oil (or any other light tasting oil, like sunflower or peanut)
1 tblspn Mustard Seed
1 tblspn Cumin Seed
1/2 tblspn Fenugreek
1/2 tblspn Coriander Seed
1 tspn Cinnamon
1 tspn Paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1. Thoroughly rinse lentils (3-5 times) place in water with a sprinkle of salt and bring to a boil
**NOTE if using coconut cream, start with 9 cups of water, if not use 10
2. As the lentils come to a boil, a foam will begin to collect on the surface. skim this foam periodically.
3. After after about 3-5 minutes of boiling the lentils and skimming the foam, add in the chopped Garlic, Ginger, and Onion. More foam will surface, and can also be skimmed. Return to the boil, then bring heat to low to simmer, covered, skimming every few minutes at first if necessary. Stir lentils every 5 minutes or so to keep from sticking.
4. After the Lentils have been cooking for about 20-25 minutes, place Coconut Oil in a wok or pan over medium-low heat. Allow the oil to heat up, then add mustard seeds. Once the seeds start popping like popcorn, add in cumin seeds, gently stirring regularly to avoid burning. When the cumin seeds just start to darken, add fenugreek and coriander seeds. continue stirring until herbs are fragrant, a few minutes, taking care not to burn them. Sprinkle in Cinnamon and Paprika, and fry another couple minutes. Switch off the heat and all the oil to cool slightly.
5. Carefully pour all the oil and spices into the pot of lentils, stirring or gently wisking to incorporate. Cook on low until desired consistency is reached (not too runny, but not as thick as mashed potatoes for example…) If the mixture is too runny, cooked uncovered and stir frequently. When desired consistency is reach turn off heat and allow to cool 5-10 minutes
Enjoy simply with rice, or along with stirfried veggies!