Masoor Dal

Masoor Dal - Indian Red Lentils recipe - The Lotus and the Artichoke vegan cookbook

Masoor Dal, or Indian red lentil curry, is one of the most classic dal recipes and a standard and favorite all across India — and the world. It accompanies almost any excellent Indian meal, and goes well with rice, chapati, naan, roti and all of your favorite breads. You can even serve it in a bowl with crackers or croutons and be a true East-West fusion superstar.

There are endless variations on this dal recipe. The tomato is optional but improves the flavor dramatically, going well to smooth the Indian spices and compliment the fresh ginger. Many Indian cooks make an even simpler, stripped-down version of dal, relying only on the key spices: cumin, coriander, and turmeric — possibly with a dash of garam masala. The smooth texture is obtained by cooking the lentils long enough that they literally fall apart. You can speed things up with an immersion blender, as noted below. (You might need to start with less water, as immersion blending a  hot, liquidy soup is a messy and dangerous matter.)

Even when cooking non-Vedic, I do use asafoetida and mustard seeds. Many Indian lentil and bean dishes just don’t need the strong garlic and onion flavors, especially if one or more vegetable dish you’re serving with the meal does rely on garlic and onion. Garlic quickly overpowers other tastes. I encourage you to experiment with less – or even none – and discover the true flavors of the more exotic spices.

With some practice it’s quick and simple to make and perfect when you want a nutritious meal and haven’t got much in the kitchen. You do always keep plenty of lentils, spices, and rice, right? Exactly. Continue reading

Vegan Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani

All across India and in Indian restaurants around the world this popular dish is easy to find — in dozens of different colors, styles, textures, and tastes. My favorite is a Punjabi variety, from the region of Northwest India bordering on and including what is now Pakistan, the origin of many Sindhi and Sikh communities, including those I lived among in Amravati (Maharashtra) in 2010-11. Ten years earlier, in Amritsar I had some really good stuff. I remember delicious ones in Rajasthan, too. Heck, my favorite Pakistani place down the street here in Berlin makes it excellent, too. This is what I’ve come up with in my own kitchens after years of tinkering and trials with lots of different recipes and suggestions.

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