Archive for January, 2019

Comfort Dal

January 12, 2019

yellow Dal soup

Here we are in mid January, a few weeks out from the holidays–cold outside and snow forecast for tonight.  Though there are a few broken Christmas cookies left in the tin, most days now, I’m ready for simple fare.

dal package

When I first tried Floyd Cardoz’s Yellow Dal from his book Flavorwalla, I never thought it would become a staple. I’ve taken his basic recipe and made it more of a soup that makes a restorative lunch on busy days and an addictive snack spooned cold right out of the jar. This simplest of dals takes only about 30 minutes to cook, is very inexpensive, highly nourishing and satisfying. The following recipe uses no fancy spice mix or exotic seasonings, but it has just enough of a lift to keep you spooning on. This is not a


recipe that needs to be exact. Follow the basic plan; use what you like and what you have on hand.

Indian dals or lentils have long been staples in my kitchen ever since Asian friends in Tanzania introduced them to me decades ago.  Even in dusty single-shop East African villages, there’d be bins or gunny bags of lentils to be weighed out and wrapped in newspaper cones, along with rice and salt. The name Dal comes from a Sanskrit world meaning “to split”

and dals are always split pulses—

softened onions and garlic

beans, peas or lentils. For example “chanas” are chick peas, and “chana dal” is the same bean peeled and split.  All lentils are high in protein, quick cooking and take well to seasoning. Plain brown lentils may be found in every American grocery store, but when you see the small, pink Masoor lentils or split red lentils, snatch them up to keep in your pantry. I buy them in a four-pound bag in the Asian section where they cost around a dollar a pound. They’re also often in the bulk area of

cooked dal

natural food markets. They fit into any nutrition plan, and most of all they are delicious.

Warm yourself with a bowl of this dal garnished with a dollop of plain yogurt and crusty sour dough toast along with a cup of chai masala and you’ll feel at peace with winter.

Yellow Dal

1 cup (7 ounces) Masoor dal, pink lentils

2 tablespoons butter, ghee, coconut oil or olive oil

½ medium onion cut in small dice

2-3 cloves garlic minced

½ Serrano chili sliced

½ cup chopped tomato, fresh or canned

½ teaspoon turmeric

4 cups water


handful of baby spinach, blanched, chopped kale or broccoli rabe (optional)

handful chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)

Most lentils today are well cleaned, but it’s wise to look them over for bits of chaff or a rare pebble by running your fingers through the dry lentils.

Warm the butter or oil in a medium soup pot. Saute the onion and garlic until softened and transparent. Add the lentils, chili, tomato, turmeric and water. Stir, bring to a boil and simmer covered until the lentils are mushy tender (20-30 minutes). Test by mashing a few lentils between your fingers. Season with salt and for a pureed soup texture, stir quickly with a whisk or a rotary beater.

While still hot, add the blanched, chopped greens and cilantro.

Taste for seasonings adding more salt if needed. You could also add a pinch of cayenne for added chili and a squeeze of lime juice if desired.

yellow Dal soup

Makes 6 generous cups of soup.