This is an unassuming but gorgeous dal and one of my favourite lentil dishes of all time. A gentle and soothing marriage of soft lentils and earthy cumin and chillies, tempered by butter, it’s old-fashioned home cooking at its best: nourishing, cheap to make and comforting.
- Yield: 4 Servings as part of a main course
- 300 g moong dal
- 4 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
- 1½ teaspoons cumin seeds
- 3 banana shallots, finely sliced
- 2 green finger chilies, very thinly sliced
- 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 1½ teaspoons salt (or to taste)
- Wash the dal until the water runs clear, then drain, place in a deep saucepan and cover with 1½ litres of water. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender.
- Meanwhile, put the ghee or butter into a frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, add the cumin seeds and shallots. Cook for around 5 minutes, then add the green chillies and garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until the shallots start to brown, then add the turmeric and garam masala.
- Tip into the dal and stir, then add the salt. You might need to add a little extra hot water to make the dal a bit thinner. Check the seasoning, and serve with plain basmati rice or naan bread, together with some pickle and yoghurt.