Are you prepared for the task of making this mouthwatering red dal soup? Don’t be discouraged by the extensive list of ingredients. Like I’ve mentioned before, cooking Indian recipes is thrilling because it’s like being back in school doing scientific research in a chemistry lab. Plus unlike regular chemistry, it always smells great and you can eat the final product!
I think that this dal and my rasam are my best Indian soups. I just love the explosion of flavors in my mouth with each one. If you like Indian dals I encourage you to try this recipe at home. It’s a crowd pleaser and though there’re a lot of ingredients, it’s actually very straightforward to make.
For those of you not familiar with the term ‘dal’ it is the word Indians use for legumes such as lentils, peas and beans. Red dal is split red lentil.
a Vegan Spicy Indian Red Dal Soup
2 cups rinsed red dal
¼ tsp turmeric
1 stalk of celery, chopped into small bits
2 medium carrots, in small cubes
1 tbsp brown sugar
7 cups of water
8 peeled ripe fresh tomatoes, cubed
2 tbp canola oil
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
10 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
4 medium onions, chopped
4 jalapeño pepper, minced, seeds and ribs removed
¼ tsp asafetida
¼ tsp chili pepper
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp peeled and grated ginger with juices (approx 3 inch piece)
½ bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
Kosher salt to taste
Add dal, turmeric, celery, sugar and carrot to a pot with 6 cups of water and cook until lentils collapse and dissolve, about 20 minutes. Stir it few times while cooking to prevent sticking. Skim foam that may form at the surface during cooking. (If you are using a pressure cooker like I did for mine, turn heat to high, once the whistle starts blowing cook for three minutes. Remove from heat. Shake the pressure cooker a couple of times while cooking to prevent sticking.) Keep warm.
Place cumin and coriander seeds on a skillet and toast them under high heat until you sense volatile aromas permeating your kitchen. Do not burn it! Transfer seeds to an electric mill and pulverize, or, if you’re athletic, utilize a mortar and pestle for the job. Don’t use store bought powders as the result will not be the same. Toasting your own plays a significant role in the final flavor of the dish. Set aside
In a new pan, heat oil then add mustard seeds and sauté them till they pop, about a minute. Stir in asafetida. Add onion and pepper. Sauté till onion becomes translucent and soft. Be careful not to burn the onion. Add powdered cumin, coriander, grated ginger and give it a good stir. Add tomatoes and a cup of water. Bring temperature to boil and then lower heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes. Transfer the mix to cooked dal. Add salt to taste. Simmer for another 8-10 minutes, stir. Lastly add chopped cilantro reserving few leaves for decoration.
I served this soup with spinach bolani purchased at the Alemany Farmers Market here in San Francisco. Bolani is an Afghan type of bread that consists of two thin flour tortilla/crepe/pita-like disks pressed together with sautéed spinach in between. Delicious! If I had not had the bolani I would’ve served this soup with my carrot cumin basmati rice.
This dish is hearty, healthy and very low in fat but high in protein.