Simple Lentil Dal (Dahl)

Recipe by Sandi From CA
READY IN: 1hr 5mins




  • Heat the oil with the cinnamon stick in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the cinnamon unfurls, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the cumin, cloves and cardamom and cook, stirring, until the cumin turns a golden brown color, about 1 more minute. Add the lentils, turmeric, water and salt. Bring to a boil and skim well. Turn down the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft, 20-30 minutes. Add more water during cooking if necessary. Taste for salt and add more if you need to.
  • Ladle about 1/2 cup of the lentils into a small bowl and mash them with a spoon (optional). Return the mashed lentils to the pot and give the dal a stir. Continue cooking at a simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes to thicken. If you like a thicker dal, use a whisk to break up the lentils into a puree. If you like a thinner dal, add water. Remove the cinnamon stick (and cardamom pods, if you like).
  • For the tempering oil, heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it just begins to brown around the edges, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic paste, ginger and minced chile and cook just to mellow the raw taste of the garlic, 10-15 *seconds*.
  • Stir half of the tempering oil into the dal along with half of the cilantro and all of the lemon or lime juice. Simmer very gently for 5 minutes. Transfer the dal to a serving bowl, pour the remaining tempering oil over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cilantro. Serve hot with additional lemon or lime juice to taste.