Lentil Week 2016: Red Lentil Dal

C – I have a new food rule.

If it’s something new, I’ve never tried it before and I don’t like it … I must try it at least two more times. Then, I can make a decision to like it or not. Sometimes, the first time is a strange experience. You’re not used to it. You might think it’s horrible.

The texture might not be something you’ve ever experienced before. Or, the smell is something completely new.

It could be really popular or it’s a culture’s main cuisine. I have to try it at least another two times … even if that first experience is engraved in my brain. Hopefully, I will like it after the second try. Because the third try will be pretty brutal … unless the person who cooked it didn’t make it very well.

If, by the second time you don’t like it, I suggest researching the dish. What is it supposed to taste like? The Internet will help a lot. Did I eat it right? Was it served right? What don’t I like about it? Could I change it and make it taste better?

Dal has been one of those recipes that I just haven’t liked. My first taste was at a meditation retreat. I really disliked it. I tasted it at another meditation retreat and disliked it again. I avoided it for a really long time. When my friend made it, I was really reluctant. But, being polite, I tried it and liked it. I actually liked it.

I asked her what was wrong with the meditation one? She said it’s probably a bland recipe. Dal recipes can be bland, if you don’t salt it enough. Meditation retreat food is usually under-salted. They also cook things in bulk and cooking things in bulk changes the flavors. The ingredients don’t mingle together as well as in small batches.

Lentil Week 2016: Red Lentil Dal
Recipe type: Mains
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Serves: 4
  • 1 cup red lentils, rocks and brown ones discarded
  • 1 Tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ½ inch ginger, grated
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 serrano chili, sliced in half lengthwise (optional, if you don’t want it spicy)
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt to taste
Tempered oil (Bagaar)
  • 1 Tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp brown mustard seeds
  • A little over ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ tsp paprika
  1. Place a tablespoon of oil into the large sauce pot. Add onions and cook until softened.
  2. Add garlic, ginger and chili. Cooked for about a minute or until fragrant.
  3. Add tomatoes, lentils and water. Bring to a boil. Do not add salt or the lentils will be hard. You want the lentils to melt together.
  4. Reduce the lentils to low. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the lentils are soft and starchy.
  5. Add salt to taste. Turn off heat.
Tempered oil (Bagaar)
  1. In a small saute pan on medium heat, add oil and heat until hot.
  2. Quickly add the cumin, mustard, turmeric and paprika. Be careful the spices might splatter, so be prepared to cover. Mix well and toast for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  3. Place mixture into the lentils. Mix well. Be careful the mixture might splatter.
  4. Serve with cilantro and some naan bread.
  5. Enjoy!


It made sense. I had to try a red lentil dal recipe for myself. This recipe is good. Full of flavors, spicy, salty, garlicy and full of lentil flavors. Eat it with some naan bread and it’s delicious.

So, now if have to figure out all the other dishes that I passed after the first try. There are a few. I wonder what I am going to try next.

Adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/winner-aarti-sequeira1/mums-everyday-red-lentils-recipe.html