Simple, delicious, nutritious dal. If you don’t know Indian food, it’s like split pea soup without the ham bone, better vegetables and (usually) more complex flavor. If you do know dal, I don’t need to say anything else. Make a big batch and you can freeze any leftovers. And if you already have leftover veggies in the fridge, this is an incredibly versatile way to upcycle them into your next meal.
- 1 cup of mung dal (yellow split lentils)
- 1 quart of water
- ghee (clarified butter) or oil for sauté
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
- 2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 8 curry leaves
- 1 very large handful of spinach, roughly chopped
- 2 scallions, trimmed and chopped
1Put your choice of legumes in a saucepan with a medium to heavy bottom, add the water, and bring to a boil. (Energy saver: Soak overnight. If it’s the same day, bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover, and let it sit for an hour or more.) (Another energy saver: pressure cook or Instapot!) However you get there, you want the lentils really soft; some may hold their structure bust mostly they’ll disintegrate into a thick soup.
2When the dal is near ready, heat the ghee or oil in a large saucepan or soup pot. (It’s worth thinking here about which pot the food will end up in at the end. If you pour the lentils into the pot you’re about to do your cooking in you’ll capture ALL of the flavor without much effort, and also make cleanup a little easier.)
3Add the mustard seeds; wait until they begin to pop. Reduce the heat a pinch and add turmeric, cumin, ginger, curry leaves, and asafoetida and sauté for a brief minute or two. There is very little volume or extra moisture in these ingredients, so too much heat here is a real danger. Add the cooked legumes, bring to a boil, and stir in the spinach—or leftover veggies—and scallions.
4Simmer as needed to cook and meld the ingredients, adjust seasoning, and serve with rice, roti, or simply plain.