This hearty and fulfilling soup enriches both heart and soul on a cold day. There are many Dal soups from southern Asia, but this recipe hails specifically from central India. The unique blend of spices may seem exotic, but thankfully, are easy to procure. The soup’s flexibility is also a bonus—add less water to make it like a stew; add more water to make it a soup. Beyond versatility, the soup can be made from start to finish in under forty-five minutes using just one pot. With little clean-up, you can sit back with friends and family to enjoy a soup that is both savory and nourishing.
1 cup red lentils, picked over, washed & drained
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 to 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
3 cloves garlic, sautéed in a bit of olive oil
1-2 teaspoon fresh lime (or lemon) juice
First, sauté the garlic in the pot in a small amount of oil. Add lentils and water and bring it to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about thirty minutes or until the lentils are tender. A pressure cooker like an Instant Pot works just as well (press the brown rice button). Add salt, turmeric, and brown mustard seeds. Then stir to mix. Squeeze lime juice over the top, stir, and serve with bread, like chapatis, naan, corn bread, or rice. It is important to add the lemon or lime to this soup. Not only does the citrus taste great by “brightening” the soup, it increase the body’s absorption of iron found in the lentils.
Sometimes I’ll add some fresh spinach to the soup or serve the soup with a side of greens.
As described in a New York Times article entitled “The How and Why of Dal,” this soup “is found on every Indian table every day, rich or poor, rain or shine.” It is found at least once a week during the winter months on mine! So, grab your apron and serve up a bowl of tasty dal soup to start off your healthy, hearty New Year with a bit of international flair! Enjoy!
Tanis, David. “The How and Why of Dal.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 28 Feb. 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/05/dining/the-how-and-why-of-dal.html.