Red Lentil Dal

Makes 3 cups (serves 2 to 4 as main dish or 4 to 6 as a side).

Note: Red lentils, aka Egyptian lentils, lose some of their color as they cook. This dish can be made a day or two ahead and served as a side to chicken, fish or lamb. It's also great on its own over rice. Adapted from "660 Curries," by Raghavan Iyer.

• 1 c. red lentils

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped

• 2 garlic cloves

• 4 lengthwise slices of fresh ginger (2 in. long and 1-in. wide, 1/8-in. thick) coarsely chopped

• 2 green fresh Thai, cayenne or serrano chiles, stems removed

• 2 tbsp. coconut oil or vegetable oil

• 1 tsp. cumin seeds

• 2 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, stems removed

• Salt

• 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric

• 1/4 c. finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

• Freshly ground black pepper


Place the lentils in a medium saucepan. Fill the pan halfway with water and rinse the lentils by rubbing then between your fingers. The water will appear cloudy. Drain the water and repeat this 3 or 4 times until the water is relatively clear. Drain.

Add the lentils back to the pan with 3 cups water. Set the pan over medium heat, uncovered, and bring to a boil. Skim off and discard any foam that forms on the surface. Simmer, stirring occasionally until the lentils are tender, about 18 to 20 minutes.

While the lentils are simmering, combine the onion, garlic, ginger and fresh chiles in a food processor and pulse to mince them together.

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the cumin and dried chiles and cook, stirring, until the chiles blacken and the cumin seeds turn reddish-brown and smell nutty, about 5 to 10 seconds. Add the onion blend, reduce the heat to medium, and stir-fry until the mixture is light brown, around the edges, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir the onion-chile and spice mixture, salt and turmeric into the lentils. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 6 minutes; stir in the cilantro and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and continue simmering until the flavors mingle, about 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:


Fat5 g

Sodium200 mg

Carbohydrates20 g

Saturated fat4 g

Total sugars1 g

Protein8 g

Cholesterol0 mg

Dietary fiber6 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1 starch, ½ lean protein, ½ fat.