Lentils - Dhal

In India lentils (cooked and uncooked) are known as dhals. You can get various kinds of dhals on the menu in Indian restaurants and the most common is dhal fry. All lentils should be washed well and then soaked for at least 10 minutes if not longer. It takes about 15 to 30 minutes for the lentils to cook depending on which one you are using, red lentils cooks the fastest. Do not add salt till the lentils are cooked – it changes the cooking process.

Most lentils are made with the basic spices that are fried in oil and added to the cooked lentils. You need about 1 cup of lentils which can serve about 4 people. If you like thick dhal then you should let the water dry out and if not then add water to make the consistency of your choice. After the lentils have cooked put them aside and fry the basic spices, which can be any of the following combinations:

In a small pan, heat a tbsp of oil, when hot fry 1 tsp mustard or cumin seeds and when they pop add any of the following combinations:

1-2 chopped green chilly (the skins only, if you don’t like them with the seeds), 1 tsp each of ginger and garlic (or more if required according to taste), 1 chopped onion and then the powder spices like: 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp garam masala
1 chopped onion, 1 tsp each ginger & garlic, 1-2 chopped green chilly (optional), 2 chopped tomatoes and then the combination of dry spice powder as mentioned above or just one or two of the spices according to preference.

Add freshly chopped coriander to dhal after you’ve fried all the spices. As a variation you can also add some lease of fresh spinach.

Dhal Fry

If you’d like to make a dhal fry, the method is slightly different. After you’ve cooked the dhal use a fairly good sized frying pan to fry any combination of spices (as per the suggestions given above in bold), and then add the cooked dhal to this spice mixture and cook for a few minutes till everything mixes well. Sprinkle fresh chopped coriander.