Ready in just 20 mins, this mildly-spiced dal fry (lentil curry) is really easy to make, frugal, filling, and comforting, plus it's only 182 calories per serving!
Last year, you may recall, I had to have some extensive dental surgery to rebuild my upper jaw - for several weeks, I was unable to eat anything other than really soft foods (yay, ice cream!), so soups, such as mulligatawny or leek and potato, and avocado hummus (by the spoonful, of course) became de rigeur.
Chewy, chunky foods were right out, which of course meant that I immediately wanted to eat all the things!
(Yes, sausages, I'm looking at you!)
Fortunately, when I lived in Thailand, I'd learned to make juk (congee), which kept me going for a while but (wo)man cannot live on juk alone.
Dal fry to the rescue! It's another recipe taught to me by my friend, Usha, when I was living in Fort Kochi. In fact, it was one of the first recipes she taught me.
As well as being super-easy to make, dal fry is also highly-nourishing, and packed with essential Vits and Mins. One of the things that I love about this dish is that it can be made as thick or thin as you like, so as my jaw healed, I was able to go from making this almost like a soup, to something far more substantial, while still being soft enough to not hurt my mouth.
International Year of Pulses
Last year, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) declared 2016 the Year of Pulses. How cool is that? I know there is a popular notion that those who don't eat meat live on nut loaf and lentil curry but actually, anyone with an ounce of nous knows that pulses are jam-packed with essential nutrients. Which, given that pulses are seeds, from whence new plants spring, makes sense that each one would be a little powerhouse of goodness.
In addition to pulses being really good for us, they are good for the planet too; a kilo of lentils, for example, takes only 50 litres of water to produce, opposed to a kilo of beef, which needs 13,000 litres. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out the ecological implications of that. Pulses also have a smaller carbon footprint, plus they provide a source of income (as well as nutrition) for some of the world's most impoverished people.
Forget the current overpriced fashionable (alleged) superfoods like goji berries, hemp hearts, and chia seeds, pulses are what the smart folk have been eating for centuries, and will be eating long after the current rash of trendy foods has passed.
For more information about International Year of Pulses, please visit the FAO website.
My dal fry
- comforting, filling, and hearty
- mildly spicy
- full of flavour
- full of goodness
Dal fry is great with rice, naan, appam, chapati, or paratha, and as a side dish for spicier, more robust Indian dishes. It’s also fantastic on its own.
We absolutely love this - I bet you will too! Enjoy!
Dal Fry - A Super-Comforting Lentil Curry
- 100 g red lentils
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 medium onion
- 4 cloves garlic smashed into a paste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder
- ½ large green chilli pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 medium tomato
- 2 teaspoon fresh coriander (cilantro leaf), chopped
- 120 ml water
- cast iron skillet
- Begin by rinsing the lentils (dal), then placing them in a medium-sized pan, with enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, put a lid on the pan, and allow the lentils to simmer until they’re soft, and have absorbed the water.
- While the lentils are cooking, heat the coconut oil in a large skillet, wok, or kadai over a high heat.
- Add the cumin seeds, and allow to splutter for 30 seconds or so.
- Add the onion, and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the garlic, stir well, and continue to fry for another five minutes or so, until the raw smell has gone.
- Lower the heat slightly, and stir in the turmeric, salt, chilli powder, and green chilli, and give everything a thorough stir.
- Mix in the ground coriander and garam masala, plus the chopped tomato, and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the cooked lentils, and gently mix in well, taking care not to break up the lentils too much.
- Add the water (if using).
- Stir-fry for another 30 seconds or so, then add the chopped coriander.
- Stir-fry for another minute, and then serve.
- Leftovers can be kept in the 'fridge in an airtight container for up to three days.
- You can also use yellow lentils or urad dal (black lentils... although they're white once the skins have been removed). I don't recommend puy lentils though because they tend to be too firm.
- 1 cup = US cup = 240 ml
- 1 tablespoon = US/UK = 15 ml
- 1 fl oz = US = 30 ml
I love curry and lentils, but have never made a dal curry! I love that you don't use a curry powder as well. It's easy to mix together your own spices so every curry dish tastes a little different!
I've never actually used commercial curry powder in my life, Alison... although I do often make my own mixes and blends, especially if I'm going to be staying somewhere, and don't want to take my entire spice kit with me!
Before I lived in India, and learned to make authentic Indian food, I did use the occasional curry paste, and was always happy with the results. Patak's make some good ones, particularly for folk who are fond of British Indian Restaurant (BIR) food. In one town I used to live in, there was a woman who made her own pastes, and sold them at local farmers' markets and craft fairs. They were fantastic!
Like you though, I love to use the individual spices - as you say, the results are often slightly different each time you make something, which of course, is the beauty of home cooking, isn't it?
I hope you make this dal soon... and love it, of course! One of my friends makes this so much, she printed off the recipe, and laminated it onto some card. She has her favourite Madhur Jaffrey recipe on the other side. What great company I'm in! xx
This is an awesome recipe of Dal Fry, found you on simple and in season.Your recipe can take part in my MLLA party, if you are interested, please join.
I am hosting My Legume Love Affair"MLLA" which is an ongoing blog party from last nine years.Please share your vegetarian and vegan legume recipes.Check the guidelines here-http://herbsspicesandtradition.blogspot.ca/2017/10/hosting-my-legume-love-affair-mlla-112.html
Hi Sadhna! Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving a comment. And thank you for the invitation to join in with MLLA - I'll check it out! xx
Kirsty Hijacked By Twins
Ok Nico, now I am starving! This looks amazing. We all love curried lentils here so I know it would be a success. This is a must try! Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare
Curried lentils are brilliant, aren't they? So easy, so cheap, so nutritious, so delicious! What's not to love?! I'm certain you'll fall in love with this dal fry too! xx
Dal is one of my favourite foods ever. So glad it sustained you through such challenging times. Sorry I've been a bit absent on social media these past few months. I've moved and got a new job and I'm finding that kind of challenging too. Hope to get back into it all properly soon.
It's one of my favourites too, Choclette - so easy, yet so rewarding.
How is life in your new home and job? Are you feeling settled yet? I imagine it must have all been quite an upheaval. Hope things calm down soon for you. I look forward to more of your cheery posts soon! xx
This was pretty awesome! I did not have any garam masala so I used 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and lots of pepper as the missing spice. I thought it was really good. I bought a chili pepper but did not use it since it was already very spicy. I used pita bread instead of naan to go with it since I did not have naan either. Improvise!
Sounds lovely Heather, I'm so glad to stopped by to share your modifications. Thank you! And of course, I'm really happy that you enjoyed the dal fry! xx
Lizzie @ Grubdujour
Yum, I love dal. International year of the pulse sounds great, I could live off them! They're such great foods.
I agree, Lizzie - pulses totally rock! And so versatile too. Not to mention, economical as well. What's not to love? 🙂