The closest approximation for the spices, texture, and flavor of a dal is a lentil gravy. Lentils stew in a spiced tomato based sauce before being finished off with a tadka for a layering of flavors from smokey cumin to warm garam masala and savory kari patta. Full of protein and fiber, eat alongside rice for a complete meal. The finished product makes approximately 2 cups cooked lentils or 4 servings.
Recipe for 4 Servings:
1/2 medium onion
1 green chile like Cayenne or Thai Bird
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1/3 cup crushed tomatoes
Oil, Butter or Ghee
Cover lentils in water and let soak for 2-3 hours. Rinse and drain. Chop by hand or in food processor the onion, ginger, garlic and green chile.
Heat oil in pot over medium heat. Add Spice Pack 1. When the spices sizzle, add the onion mixture. Cook until onions become soft. Add crushed tomatoes and Spice Pack 2. Let cook for 5 minutes or until the mixture slightly thickens. Add lentils and 2 cups of water. Cover and cook over medium heat. You can use a pressure cooker or just the stove top method. After three whistles of the pressure cooker or 25 minutes on the stove top, the lentils should be soft, having absorbed most of the water. There should be enough liquid to sop up with rice and naan!
Finish the dish with a tadka – Heat ½ tsp of ghee or butter. Add Spice Pack 3. When the spices start to pop, pour the oil over the finished dal and let sit covered for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh cilantro.