Susan’s Spicy Lentil Vegetable Dhal

A bowl of indian Tarka dahl (yellow lentil soup) with some raw dahls on a napkin

1 1/4 cup masoor dal (red lentils, yellow lentils or combination of yellow split peas and lentils)

1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup diced potatoes
½ cup sliced leeks
½ cup chopped tomatoes (optional)
1 cup chopped kale or spinach

3 1/2 cups water
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon hing (asaoefetida)
1/2 teaspoon garam masala (use when incorporating tomatoes in recipe)
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

1/2 cup well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk (optional)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1-2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Soak lentils for 1-2 hours. Rinse clean under running water before cooking. Add lentils and other veggies to water and bring to a boil with turmeric in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then gently simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until falling apart, about 20-30 minutes.

When lentils are mostly cooked, heat oil or ghee in a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  In the shimmering ghee, cook mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek, hing, garam masala and red pepper flakes until mustard seeds begin to pop and/or turn gray and cumin seeds brown, about 1 minute. Stir spice mixture into lentils with coconut milk (optional), cilantro, lemon juice, and salt and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering for 15-20 minutes.

A perfectly balanced vegetarian meal when served with chapatis or rotis, and basmati rice.       (makes 5-6 servings)

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