Did you know in terms of protein, iron, zinc and folate, lentils even triumph over black beans? Their other angelic characteristics include very low percentage of fat – just one per cent fat and 44 per cent insoluble dietary fibre, which helps reduce blood cholesterol. And whole green and brown lentils contain even more fiber than hulled red and black ones.

Sabut Masoor Dal or Whole Red Lentils are one of the most frequently cooked and most cherished of lentils in Punjabi homes.

It makes the simplest and most fulfilling of family meals with very few ingredients. Usually split lentils are used to make creamy, soupy curry consistency because they get mushy quickly and more easily. Whole or unhulled lentils need to be cooked longer, with a bit more water than the red and are often used in dishes where we require lentils to keep their shape.

But in South Asia we just love to dip our breads and drown our rice in something that has a soupy curry like consistency. That’s why all green and brown whole lentils are cooked this way with a creamy texture too. It’s not even difficult to get this texture right with a little extended cooking time and increased quantity of water. If you are using a pressure cooker, it will get done under 10 minutes.

The only thing to watch out for is that water content shouldn’t be separate from cooked lentils. Dal swimming in watery broth is considered badly cooked dal by grandmothers and mothers, and it doesn’t taste or look as amazing either as when it’s partly dissolved in a creamy sauce like consistency.

If you are weight watching, you can reduce oil and choose a healthier type but pleeeeeease don’t skip “tarka” or tempered oil because that is what takes dal from okay to irresistible level. And the aroma of garlic, cumin and red chillies sizzling in oil – there are really no words to describe it!

2 cups brown lentils/whole masoor
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5-6 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4-5 dry red chilli peppers
2 tablespoons ghee/olive or coconut oil

This Is What You Do:
Pick any tiny stones or other debris from lentils. Rinse well to get rid of dirt.

There is no need to soak lentils, they get done 30-35 minutes anyways.

Choose a deep and wide mouthed pan for cooking lentils because they almost double in volume after getting cooked.

Add lentils to the pan and enough water to come up at least 1 inch over the lentils.

Add salt, red chilli powder, turmeric, ground cumin and black pepper.

Add 4 cloves of garlic.

Cook on medium low heat till the liquid is sufficiently reduced and lentils are very tender.

Squish them in the pan with the ladle to make them creamy. Add 1/2 cup or as much water as soupy you want the consistency.

Stir and bring to a boil. Turn off heat.

Prepare the tempered oil in a small frying pan. Add ghee/oil.

Thinly slice the remaining garlic cloves and add to the oil. Fry till garlic is golden. DO NOT Burn. Nothing tastes worse than burnt garlic.

Add cumin seeds and chopped or whole dry red chilli peppers. Fry another few seconds.

Pour this “tasks” or tempered oil over hot dal.

Serve hot with flatbread or rice OR dig in with a spoon. A simple onion, cucumber and tomato salad in lemon juice and cumin yogurt taste great on the side.

Serves 4-6

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