As much as I love going on vacation and trying new things, travel is tiring.
After 2 days of travelling back from France, we all needed something warm and comforting. I was definitely not touching another plate of pasta or pizza.
Being vegetarian in small-town France (or any part of France, for that matter) is tricky, with pasta and pizza being among the few options. If you're non-vegetarian, France is culinary heaven.
Dal is something I've been eating all my life and anyone who's been to an Indian restaurant will be familiar with it. But the one my mum makes is by far better than any Masoor dal (Split red lentils) in the world. It's not the usual watery version with tomatoes and coriander floating around.
Hers is like a delicious soup; my favourite thing when I'm sick is feeling its warmth sinking down my throat. Plus, it's so healthy: no heavy cream or butter-- just protein, vitamins and lots of flavour.
A while back, I learnt how to make it too and it's finished in 15-20 minutes, maximum.
Surprise your friends- Indian and not- with your very own dal, or make it as a stunning soup with any other cuisine.
You'll want a second bowl...
(Split Red Lentils)
This can be made both with and without the tomatoes and coriander, but I like the richness from the tomatoes a lot.
Makes about 5 small bowlfuls
About 1 cup split red lentils, washed (I used lentils from Organic Garden- they take a little longer to cook, but regular lentils work fine)
Cumin seeds (Jeera)
Coriander Powder (Dhaniya powder)
1 tomato, washed and coarsely chopped (can be omitted or substituted with tomato purée)
1/2 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
Vegetable, canola or sunflower oil
Fresh coriander (optional), washed and chopped
Cook your lentils in a pressure cooker or in a saucepan. For the pressure cooker, pour in enough water to cover the lentils and let them cook for 3-4 whistles. If you're using a saucepan, add 2-3 cups of water and let it cook. Top up the water if the water has dried but the lentils don't seem cooked yet. They're cooked when they start to disintegrate a bit and it blends into one mixture.
Put your chopped tomato in a blender/ processor and blend until smooth.
If you used a pressure cooker, make your 'masala' in a large saucepan. If you used a saucepan to cook the lentils, make your masala in a small saucepan.
Just remember, all the measurements for the spices are completely rough- I just make it by throwing things in, but these are to give you a ball park figure. Don't stand there measuring the spices- just put them in and taste!
Pour a couple of tablespoons of oil into your masala saucepan and heat it on a stove.
Add your onions and 3 teaspoons of cumin seeds (you can never have enough of them).
Cook until the onions turn translucent and soft. Add your garlic and cook for a couple of minutes- be careful not to burn the garlic.
Add your tomato liquid, at least 2 1/2 teaspoons of coriander powder, about 1/2 teaspoon garam masala and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder. You can add your fresh coriander now, if you're using it, or after you add the lentils.
Cook for about a minute as the tomato bubbles and the spices mix. If you cooked the lentils in a saucepan, tip out your little pan of masala into your lentils. If you cooked them in a pressure cooker, add your lentils to your large saucepan of masala.
Mix well and season with salt until you're satisfied.