Tadka Toor Dal

This is a simple, pretty much fail safe Indian dal. I was making a vegetarian Indian meal for friends (normally against my principles…the vegetarian bit, not the friends bit) and this recipe is an easy, fuss free curry you can have on a simmer without any worries of it spoiling. The lovely nutty flavour of toor dal is a real winner every time, deceptively simple, and surprisingly filling this non-vegetarian was mightily satisfied on all fronts!

1 small onion (chopped)
2 small fresh chillies (seeded and chopped)
1 tomato (chopped)
2 cups toor dal
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh coriander (chopped)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
3 medium dried red chillies
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a large saucepan, add the onion, chillies, tomato, dal, ground spices and pepper (NOT the salt). Add 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until the lentils are soft and just holding their shape. Add more water if it becomes too thick or sticks and similarly, if it’s too watery turn up the heat to reduce the liquid. Different dal types absorb varying degrees of liquid so this is a rough guide. The end consistency should be that of a thickish soup.

To make the tadka: In a small pan heat the oil over a moderate/high heat until hot. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and chillies and sizzle for 30 seconds until the seeds start to pop. Pour all the seeds, chillies and oil into the dal and stir well. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and fresh coriander. Serve hot.

Goes well with pretty much any curry and even works well on its own over rice or with breads.

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