Classic yellow daal

Once the weather gets cooler, I start craving dishes that are heartier and pack a punch - whilst still being light and nourishing. This is a favourite go to, a simple daal made with two different types of lentils - yellow mung and orange masoor daal - and lightly flavoured with cumin, onions and tomatoes. It can be eaten on its own as a soup, with some natural yogurt to top it off, or with rice or rotis and some spiced vegetables. Daal is the mainstay of most Indian home meals and it was no different with us - omnipresent in a gazillion different forms, its also a great source of protein. In this recipe, I finish the daal off with a bit of jaggery or sugar to add a subtle twist to the flavour, feel free to leave this out if its not to your liking.


1/3 cup each yellow mung and masoor daals
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ghee or teaspoons sunflower oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
a pinch of asafoetida
2 teaspoons brown sugar or finely grated jaggery, to taste (optional)
chopped coriander, to garnish
Salt to taste


Mix the daals together and wash throughly until the water runs clear. Transfer to a medium-sized pot or a cooker, add 2 cups of water, the pinch of asafoetida, 1/2 teaspoon ghee or sunflower oil and the turmeric and cook on a low flame until the daals are soft and cooked through. The process is much faster with a cooker and I love the consistency it imparts, but this is completely personal choice.

While the daals are cooking, heat the remaining teaspoon of ghee or sunflower oil in a deep nonstick pot, on a medium flame. Once warm, add the cumin seeds and wait until they start sizzling, about 30 seconds. Add the onions and stir to combine. Once the onions are translucent, about 3 - 4 minutes, add the tomatoes and mix together. Continue cooking on a medium flame until the tomatoes just start to break down, about 3 - 4 minutes. Add the chilli powder, if you're using it, lower the heat and cook  for a further minute. If the daals aren’t ready by this point, turn off the heat and wait until they’re done.

Once the daals are cooked, give them a stir and add to the onion-tomato mix. Stir well to combine, you might need to add some water at this point, what you're looking for is a thick soup-like consistency. Add salt to taste, bring the daal to a gentle simmer and lower the heat. If you're using jaggery or sugar to swweten slightly, you can add them at this point. Start with a little and work your way up, until you have a flavour you like. Continue to cook gently for 3 - 4 minutes, transfer to a serving dish or soup bowls and garnish with the chopped coriander. Serve hot, with natural yogurt on the side and rotis or rice as an accompaniment.

Serves two as a main or four as a side dish

Prep time: 10 minutes, Cooking time: 15 - 45 minutes, depending on how you cook the lentils


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