Daal chawal, or spiced lentils and rice, is a staple in many Indian homes. It is a dish made across the Indian subcontinent, and the recipes for daal vary from home to home. It’s something I grew up eating and continue to make for my family.
Lentils are a budget-friendly nutritional powerhouse; they’re naturally gluten-free, vegan, and are filled with nutrients like iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and more. They’re the perfect hearty dish to make on cool, busy autumn and winter nights. My version is an homage to my Punjabi background, where lentils and pulses are eaten daily – especially for the vegan and vegetarian crowd.
Punjabi daal is topped with a tadka of tempered warming spices, and cooked in earthy homemade ghee. Enjoy this daal over top warm basmati rice, or with fresh buttery roti, and if you’re up for it: try eating with your hands!
In a medium sized pot over medium high heat, add the lentils and water
Bring to a boil, skim off the scum and discard.
Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the lentils are easily mashed, but still have shape and texture to them. Remove from heat and aside.
In a deep skillet over medium heat, add the ghee, onions, and dried chilis. Sauté until softened and translucent.
Add the green chilis, garlic and ginger. Cook over medium heat until the onions become a medium golden brown.
Add in the tomatoes and spices.
Mix to combine and cook for about five minutes, or until the ghee separates from the tomato and spice mixture.
Add the cooked lentils into the tadka, and mix well.
With the stove on medium low heat, bring the daal to a light simmer. Cover and cook for five minutes, to help the lentils really absorb the flavours of the tadka. For extra heat, use a spoon to crush the kashmiri chilis open. Taste for salt.
Off the heat, garnish the daal with a dusting of garam masala, a good squeeze of lemon juice, some melted ghee, and lots of fresh cilantro.
Serve the daal over top fresh, warm, basmati rice with lemon wedges, spicy green chilis, and thinly sliced onions.