Another Day, Another Dal

A couple weeks ago, I had suggested Chimp use yellow moong beans for a dish he was making for our dinner. When I came home from work, I found Chimp in the kitchen with a batch of lentils draining in a mesh strainer and another batch on the stove.

“What’s with all the lentils?” I asked him, looking at the first perfectly-cooked batch in the strainer.

“I ruined the first batch. They totally disintegrated.”

“That’s what they’re supposed to do.”

“Oh. Really?”

“Yes,” I said, tasting the second batch, which was just finishing cooking, “and these are perfect too.”

“I meant to do that.”

“So we have extra lentils?”

“I guess so.”

“Why don’t we just stash the first batch in the freezer, then, and I’ll use them sometime soon.”

Saturday morning was the day. I was up at 6:30, at the farmer’s market by 7:30, and home a little after 8. I made this right then, and it was done by 10 a.m. When Chimp woke up, around that time, I told him I’d already finished this and a batch of curtido, and he muttered into his pillow, “Jocelyn: she cooks more before 10 a.m. than most people cook all day.”

I have a great dal makhani recipe up already. I even have a cabbage dal recipe up already. This one, though, is less rich than the first one, richer than the second one, and has more vegetables than either, so it gets a place too.

I was out of garlic, so this has no garlic – you could certainly add it, if you think you just can’t live without it. Because I was out of garlic, I compensated by adding plenty of other rich flavors – the ginger, bell peppers and tomato all provide dimension.

1 T. oil
1 T. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 head of cabbage, finely shredded
1 T. ground cumin
1 T. ground coriander
1 t. turmeric
4 c. cooked dal (moong or toovar would work best here)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Oil for the pan
1/2 T. fresh ginger, minced
3 small bell peppers, chopped
1 medium-large tomato, roughly chopped
1 stick cinnamon

1/2 c. cilantro, minced
1 T. butter to finish

Heat the oil and butter in a large, deep saucepan. Sauté the onion, cumin and coriander together until the onion is a rich brown. Add the cabbage and sauté until wilted but not quite cooked through. Push the mixture to one side of the pan, then add the turmeric and allow it to fry for a few seconds. Add the dal, a couple cups of water (more or less depending on how thick you wish the result to be), and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer 20 minutes.

In a separate sauté pan with a little oil, sauté the ginger until it releases its fragrance. Add the green peppers and sauté over medium-high heat until they pick up some nice brown spots. Add the tomato and sauté until the tomato is broken down and forms a sauce. You can mash the tomato with the spatula to encourage this.

When the tomato is broken down, uncover the pan in which the dal is simmering and turn the green peppers and tomatoes into the mixture as well as the cinnamon stick. Stir in, cover, and allow to simmer another 10-15 minutes for the flavors to blend. At the last moment, add the pat of butter and the minced cilantro to finish. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Makes 8 servings

3 thoughts on “Another Day, Another Dal

  1. Thanks for the dal recipes. I LOVE dal, love, love, love it, but I’ve never thought to put cabbage in, great idea. I often use silverbeet (or well we call it silverbeet in Australia, not sure if that translates to the US?) but next time I’ll try the cabbage thing.
    Oh yes, and I really enjoy your blog. I’ve been quietly reading it for a while and I like the combination of recipes and writing about produce, the food industry and food production. It’s so easy to get disconnected from the sources of the food we eat, so thanks for the blog.

  2. Thanks, Kathryn, you’re so welcome! A long-simmered dal can bring out those great melty-soft characteristics in cabbage.
    I think what you know as silverbeet we in the States call chard. It’s a favorite of mine too, but I have to admit, I have never put it in dal – so I will have to try that! Thanks for the vegetable cultural exchange.
    I am bookmarking you – I see from your About page that your clinic is in the Strand Arcade, and I envy you for at least two reasons: 1. What a beautiful place to go to work each day. 2. Let me just say that it’s fortunate for my wallet that there’s no source for Alannah Hill’s clothes near me.

  3. Lentil cabbage dal

    Since reading Jocelyns post about cabbage dal over at She Spills the Beans, Ive been slightly obsessing about making this dal. I love, love, LOVE dal and weve always got a few tubs of it in the freezer. While I often include silv…

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