This is another creation of Chef Heidi Fink which I learned to make in her fabulous “Introduction to Indian Cuisine” class. If you are like me and have never cooked any Indian dishes before, do not let the long list of ingredients for this dahl intimidate you. Trust me, this is one simple and tasty dish you will make over and over again. I have, in fact, made it more than once now, so I’ve made a couple of little adjustments to suit my personal taste.
1/4 cup split red lentils
1/4 cup yellow split peas
1/4 cup moong dahl (split moong beans)
1/4 cup channa dahl (split black chickpeas)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
4 cups water (original recipe calls for 3)
3 tablespoons tamarind paste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
12 fresh or dried curry leaves
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (I bought coriander seeds and proceeded to grind them using a coffee grinder)
1 red chile (fresh or frozen), minced (original recipe calls for 2 fresh chiles)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder
Wash lentils: place them in a large bowl filled with water, stir with your hand, rinse and repeat. Place rinsed lentils, water, salt and turmeric in a large pot, bring to a boil, skim off the foam on the surface, then lower the heat until it’s only simmering, cover and cook for about 40 minutes, stirring often.
While the lentils cook, place the tamarind in a small bowl and pour boiling water over it, just enough to cover the paste. Let it soak for about 30 minutes. While the tamarind is soaking, place the yellow and black mustard seeds in a small container, the cumin seeds and curry leaves in a second container, the fenugreek seeds in a third container on their own, and in a fourth container place the ground coriander, minced chili, grated ginger and asafoetida.
Once the 30 minutes have gone by, strain the tamarind water into a second bowl, pressing the paste through the sieve with the back of a spoon until you get the most out of it (scrape the bottom of the sieve too). Discard the solids left in the sieve, stir the contents of the bowl with a spoon to combine the paste and the water, set aside.
Once the lentils are cooked, place the oil and yellow and black mustard seeds in a small pan on medium heat. Once the seeds begin to pop and turn grey, incorporate the cumin seeds and curry leaves, stir and cook for a few seconds, then add the fenugreek seeds and cook for about 15 seconds, then add the contents of the fourth bowl, stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Add a splash of water to deglaze the pan and add this to the lentils, as well as the tamarind mix. Stir to combine and let the dahl simmer for about 15 minutes.