This is one of my family’s favorite dishes. My husband taught me to make it and depending what ingredients I have, it comes out a little different every time, but still delicious. You can find most of these ingredients at your local grocery or Walmart The dal can be found in the Indian/Asian section of some grocers, but your best bet is your local Indian store. Don’t buy Thai coconut milk or any coconut cream, it will be way too sweet.
Why is this budget friendly? Depending on what you have in your pantry, it only costs as much as a bag of rice, dal (about 2.99), 1 can of coconut milk ($.99-$1.50) and vegetables. The dal would be just as good without all the spices and bacon if you don’t have them. And it can feed a lot of people.
Don’t be intimidated. It can be a little involved, but why it’s so easy is because you cook it once and you forever know how to do it. It’s an easy recipe to do a little of this and none of that and so on…
Here is what you’ll need:
Cooks in 30-45 Min Serves Approx: 4
2 – 2 1/2 cup Swad Masoor Dal (Split Red Lentils)
1 1/2 cup of water
1/3 – 1/2 can Coconut Milk
1 tbsp Your favorite Curry Powder (do not use Thai curry as it is too sweet for this dish)
or make your own:
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Cardamom
- 1 tsp Red Pepper flakes
- 1 tsp Ground Mustard
- 1 tsp Ground Cumin Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp Turmeric Powder
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Red Onion or whatever you have on hand
2-3 Roma Tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes
2-3 oz Bacon (optional)
Rice (any kind of white rice except instant, Jasmine is best for flavor if you can afford it)
- In a mixing bowl, pour in the dal.
- Pick out any obvious debris and rinse well under water.
- Dal to water ratio: About 1 cup Dal to 1 1/2-2 cups water.
Proper way to clean dal:When you fill the bowl with water, use your hand to mix it up and you will see some hulls and debris float to the surface. Pour it out and repeat, as many times as you need to. This also eliminates some of the starch so you don’t get a sloppy mess.
Note: The lentils measure similar to split pea soup, it doesn’t seem like much dry, but once it’s cooked it seems to double. So keep that in mind when you choose how much. Also, you don’t want to put too much dal in the pot. You won’t have anymore room for the rest of the ingredients.
- In a large skillet or dutch oven, cook on med to med-high temp.
- Pour in the olive oil and half the red onion and keep the other half in reserve or a whole yellow/white.
- If you are using bacon, chop into little pieces and fry till crispy and the onions are translucent.
- Put in all the spices and the tomatoes.
- Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes till most of the liquid is reduced.
- Pour in the dal and water, mix till everything stirs freely. (It should seem like soup.)
- Let come to boil, stir frequently to keep from sticking on the bottom.
- Turn down to med-low and cover for about 20 minutes.
- Add 1/2 tbsp Salt
- Everything should have thickened up and it should have a slight al dente texture.
- Add salt to taste.
- Pour in 1/3 can of coconut milk. If the lentils are still a little harder than al dente, pour in about 1/2 the can of coconut milk.
- Put in the reserved red onions.
- Stir until mixed and cover med-low for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Texture should be a little grainy but creamy.
- Salt to taste.
Cook white rice according to your usual methods or per directions on packaging. Pour mixture over rice.