Creamy Tadka Dal with Roti

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I loved the combination of textures and colors from the mix of beans in this creamy dal. The recipe was a “staff favorite” in Food and Wine, contributed by Antara Sinha. It was included an article titled “Good to the Last Sop: Cozy Dinners That Deliver Endless Comfort.” The original recipe includes instructions to make homemade roti to serve with the dal to sop it up. ūüôā

We ate this dish with store-bought roti but I included the roti recipe from the original article below. I wish I had made the homemade roti because we tragically did not enjoy the store-bought version. (Homemade is always better!) I served the dal over brown Basmati rice with steamed spinach on the side. Hearty and delicious vegetarian comfort food.

For the Dal:

  • 3/4 cup dried moong dal (split yellow mung beans) (about 5¬Ĺ ounces)¬†
  • 3/4 cup dried masoor dal (split red lentils) (about 5 ounces)¬†
  • 3/4 cup dried chana dal (split bengal gram) or dried toor dal (split pigeon peas) (about 5¬ĺ ounces)¬†
  • 2‚ÄČ1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste¬†
  • 1‚ÄČ1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric¬†
  • 6 to 7 cups water, divided¬†
  • 1‚ÄȬŠtablespoons canola oil¬†
  • 4 green cardamom pods, crushed, shells discarded¬†
  • 4 whole cloves¬†
  • 1‚ÄȬľ teaspoons cumin seeds¬†¬†
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)¬†¬†
  • 2 medium-size fresh serrano or jalape√Īo chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired, and finely chopped (about 2 1/2 tablespoons)¬†
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped (about 1 cup)¬†
  • ¬ľ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish¬†

For the Roti:

  • 2 cups atta (Indian whole-wheat flour) (about 8 5/8 ounces), plus more for dusting¬†
  • 3/4 to 1 cup water, divided¬†
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt¬†
  • melted ghee, for brushing¬†

For the Tadka:

  • 3 tablespoons ghee¬†
  • 3 small dried chiles (such as Diaspora Co. Whole Sannam Chillies), or more to taste¬†(I used Bird’s Eye)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

To Serve:

  • brown Basmati rice, optional
  • steamed spinach, optional

To Start the Dal:

  1. Stir together moong dal, masoor dal, chana (or toor) dal, salt, turmeric, and 6 cups water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. (I used a medium enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low; partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until dal is soft and tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Add up to remaining 1 cup water, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired thickness and consistency is reached.

To Make the Roti Dough:

  1. Stir together atta, 3/4 cup water, and salt in a medium bowl. Knead mixture in bowl until all dry flour is incorporated, adding remaining 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to incorporate flour.
  2. Transfer dough to a clean work surface; knead until stretchy and slightly sticky, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Shape dough into a ball, and return to bowl. Cover with a clean towel; let stand at room temperature until dough is smooth and matte, about 30 minutes.

To Season the Dal:

  1. Heat oil in a medium-size heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium.
  2. Add cardamom, cloves, and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds.
  3. Add onion and chopped fresh chiles; cook, stirring often, until onion is lightly browned around edges, 5 to 8 minutes.
  4. Add tomato; cook, stirring often, until tomato begins to break down, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Add tomato mixture and cilantro to dal mixture; stir to combine. Season to taste with salt.
  6. Cover and keep warm over low.

To Cook the Roti:

  1. Once roti dough has rested, turn out onto a work surface lightly dusted with atta.
  2. Divide dough evenly into 16 pieces (about 1 ounce each).
  3. Working with 1 dough piece at a time and keeping remaining pieces covered with a towel, shape dough into a ball. Dust ball thoroughly with atta, and flatten slightly. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a circle until uniformly thin and about 6 inches in diameter. Rotate the disk 90 degrees after each roll, flipping and dusting with atta occasionally to make a perfect circle. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.
  4. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high. Place 1 roti round in skillet; cook until bubbles start to form and bottom is speckled with brown spots, 30 to 45 seconds. Flip roti using tongs; cook until it puffs up completely and is evenly cooked on both sides, 30 to 45 seconds. (Small charred spots are delicious and totally OK.) If roti doesn’t completely puff up, pat the top using a clean towel to encourage it to inflate.
  5. Remove roti from skillet, and brush both sides lightly with melted ghee; transfer to a serving plate. Repeat process with remaining roti rounds and ghee.

To Make the Tadka & to Serve:

  1. In a small skillet, heat ghee over medium-high. Add dried chiles and cumin to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until cumin is toasted and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Divide dal mixture among bowls, and drizzle each portion with desired amount of warm tadka. (I served it over brown Basmati rice.)
  3. Sprinkle with additional cilantro, and serve alongside hot roti and steamed spinach, as desired.

Note: Dal can be prepared (without the tadka) 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Red Lentil Soup with Warm Spices

I absolutely love red lentil soup. I have made several versions and I have always been pleased with the results. It’s easy, healthy, and delicious. This version was incredibly creamy. I loved the pop of color from the flavorful toppings too.

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. I modified the proportions. We ate it with a green salad and warm naan- a perfect light dinner. Vegetable stock can be substituted for the chicken stock for a vegetarian version.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Soup:

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped fine (I used a food processor)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups chicken stock (I used 4 cups chicken stock & 4 cups homemade turkey stock)
  • 4 cups water
  • 21 ounces (3 cups) red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 4 T (1/4 cup, about 1 lemon) freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning

For the Topping:

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp dried mint, crumbled (I omitted it)
  • 2¬†tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

To Make the Soup:

  1. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and 2 teaspoons salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Stir in broth, water, and lentils and bring to simmer. Simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and about half are broken down, about 15 minutes.
  6. Whisk soup vigorously until it is coarsely pureed, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste. Cover and keep warm. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Thin soup with water, if desired, when reheating.)

To Make the Topping:

  1. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in small skillet or in the microwave. (I only did 1/2 of the topping because I froze 1/2 of the soup!)
  2. Remove from heat and stir in mint and paprika, as desired.
  3. Ladle soup into individual bowls, drizzle each portion with spiced butter (about 1 teaspoon), sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.

North African Bean Stew with Winter Squash

This is a healthy and hearty vegetarian stew. We ate it over brown Basmati rice with steamed spinach on the side. I loved that it was loaded with warm spices.

The recipe was adapted from Brooklyn’s Kos Kaffe via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used farro instead of barley, used canned beans, and increased the amount of garlic. I also¬†reduced the amount water to achieve a thicker consistency. Nice.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Baharat Spice Blend:

  • 1 T sweet paprika
  • 1/2 T ground coriander
  • 1/2 T ground cumin
  • 1/2 T ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice

For the Stew:

  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving
  • 2¬†leeks, white and green parts, diced
  • 1¬†bunch cilantro, leaves and stems separated
  • 1¬†cup finely diced fennel, fronds reserved (1 medium or 1/2 large fennel bulb)
  • 4 large¬†garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons baharat spice blend
  • 1 small (or 1/2 large) cinnamon stick
  • 2¬†tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2¬†quarts chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley or farro (I used Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • ¬†large pinch saffron, crumbled
  • 4¬†cups cooked beans or chickpeas¬†(I used 2 15-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • 2¬†cups peeled and diced butternut squash (1/2 large or 1 small squash)
  • 3/4 cup peeled and diced turnip (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • plain yogurt, for serving (I used Greek yogurt)
  • aleppo pepper or hot paprika, for serving
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  1. Make the baharat spice blend. Set aside.
  2. Cut leeks in half, slice into half moons, and soak in a bowl of water. Drain and finely chop in a food processor.
  3. In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil and cook leeks until they begin to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  4. While the leeks cook, finely chop the cilantro stems, fennel and garlic in a food processor.
  5. Stir the cilantro stems into the pot, along with diced fennel and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in baharat, cinnamon and tomato paste, and cook until paste begins to caramelize, about 2 minutes.
  7. Stir in broth, 1 cup water (water can be omitted for a thicker consistency), the barley/farro, and the salt. Bring to a gentle boil, stir in saffron, if using, and reduce heat to medium. (The original recipe uses 3 cups of water- increase for a more soup-like consistency, as desired.)
  8. Simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. (I simmered the stew for 20 minutes because I used par-cooked farro.)
  9. Stir in beans, squash, turnip and lentils; cook until barley/farro and vegetables are tender, about another 30 minutes.
  10. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. Remove cinnamon stick.
  11. Ladle stew into bowls. (I served it over rice.)
  12. Spoon a dollop of yogurt on top and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with cilantro leaves, fennel fronds and Aleppo pepper or paprika, as desired.

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

I have two hearty soups to share. Perfect to serve for dinner on a chilly night. This red lentil soup is healthy, delicious, and quick to prepare.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I doubled the recipe, modified the proportions, and puréed the finished soup to create a uniform texture. I served it with warm naan and green salad.

Yield: 8 servings

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground Chile powder, more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne, more to taste
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock (I used 1 quart of homemade turkey stock & 1 quart of chicken stock)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon, more to taste
  • 6¬†T¬†chopped fresh cilantro, more for garnish
  1. In a large pot, heat oil over high heat until hot and shimmering.
  2. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper, chili powder, and cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
  4. Add stock, water, lentils and carrots. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.
  5. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  6. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée the soup then add it back to pot.
  7. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro.
  8. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder, if desired. Garnish with additional minced cilantro as well, if desired.

Vegetarian Harira

This is a vegetarian version of Harira, a traditional, savory Moroccan soup. It is incredibly full-flavored- loaded with spices and legumes.

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I added fresh lemon juice, used canned San Marzano tomatoes, dried garbanzo beans, and increased the amount of garlic. Tanis recommends serving the soup the day after it is prepared in order to allow the flavors to meld.

We ate it with warm naan and green salad. It was hearty, healthy, filling, and delicious.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced, about 2 cups
  • 8¬†garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried ginger
  • 1 ¬Ĺ teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin
  • ¬ľ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon crumbled saffron
  • 1 (3-inch) piece cinnamon stick or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups diced ripe tomato, fresh or canned (I used 2 28-oz cans San Marzano tomatoes, drained)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • coarse salt
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup peeled dried fava beans or 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • ¬ľ pound angel hair pasta or vermicelli, broken into 1-inch pieces
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Put olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened and lightly colored, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic, ginger, pepper, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, saffron and cinnamon. Cook for about 2 minutes more.
  4. Add tomatoes, celery leaves and cilantro and bring to a brisk simmer.
  5. Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes, until mixture thickens somewhat, then add 1 teaspoon salt, the brown lentils, red lentils and dried faves or soaked chickpeas.
  6. Add 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, covered with the lid ajar.
  7. Let soup simmer for 30 minutes, then taste broth and adjust salt.
  8. Cook for 1 hour more at a gentle simmer, until the legumes are soft and creamy. It may be necessary to add more liquid from time to time to keep soup from being too porridge-like. It should be on the thick side, but with a pourable consistency. (With every addition of water, taste and adjust for salt.)
  9. Just before serving, add pasta and let cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Add fresh lemon juice.
  11. Ladle soup into small bowls and pass lemon wedges for squeezing, as desired.
Note: The soup may be made in advance and refrigerated. (This is recommended!) If it thickens, thin with water or broth when reheating, and adjust the salt.

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Red Lentil & Butternut Squash Soup (Shorabit Jarjir)

I absolutely LOVE red lentil soup. I have tried many versions and enjoy each one just as much as the last. This version seemed perfect for autumn with the incorporation of butternut squash. The squash added a subtle sweetness and beautiful color.

I made this wonderful velvety soup in advance to serve for lunch on Thanksgiving Day. (I am sure it freezes well!) This recipe was adapted from Saveur. I doubled the original recipe and decreased the amount of olive oil and red pepper flakes. We ate it with green salad and naan. Perfect.

Yield: Serves 12

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow¬†onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2¬†tsp crushed red chile flakes
  • 1¬†small butternut squash (about 2 lbs) peeled, seeded, cubed, and then finely chopped
  • coarse¬†salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 cups organic chicken stock
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • finely chopped parsley, for garnish
  • paprika, for garnish
  • flatbread (naan) and lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Finely chop the garlic, carrots, celery, and onion in a food processor.
  2. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, carrots, celery, and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly caramelized, 12 to 14 minutes.
  3. While the base is cooking, finely chop the cubed butternut squash in a food processor.
  4. Stir the cumin, chile flakes, squash, salt, and pepper into the carrot-celery-onion mixture; cook until squash is soft, about 15 minutes.
  5. Add stock and lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, slightly covered, until lentils are very tender, about 20 minutes.
  6. Let soup cool slightly, then, working in batches, purée soup until smooth. (I used an immersion blender.)
  7. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with parsley and paprika; serve with flatbread and lemon wedges on the side.

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Greek Red Lentil Soup

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First of all, who doesn’t love something with a giant dollop of salty cheese on top? ūüôā This soup has it all- loads of fresh herbs, garlic, onion, and red lentils. I knew that I had to move it to the top of my must make list before my herb garden succumbed to the cold weather…. Mmmmm…

Well, I barely remember when my herb garden wasn’t buried under 3 feet of snow, but I do remember this delicious soup! I made it again but used dried oregano this time. Still delicious!! We ate it on a snow day with a homemade Pullman bread loaf, green salad, and cake pops for dessert. This recipe was adapted from Chef Juliana of Foodie on Board. I reduced the lemon juice to 1 lemon. Wonderful!!

For the Soup:

  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black¬†pepper
  • ¬ľ teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 cups store-bought or homemade turkey, or chicken or vegetable stock
  • zest of ¬Ĺ lemon
  • juice of 1 to 2 lemons, to taste

For the Topping:

  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons minced rosemary
  • freshly ground black¬†pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat and sauté onions with 1 teaspoon salt until translucent. Add garlic, carrot, pepper, chiles, herbs, bay leaves and remaining salt. Stir well and sauté until the carrots are just tender.
  2. Add the lentils and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the lentils are soft and falling apart. If you like, the soup can be puréed or left as it is. If you choose to purée, remove the bay leaves first. (I puréed it.)
  3. Season the soup with lemon zest, lemon juice and more salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Before serving, stir together the feta cheese, rosemary and pepper. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the hot bowls of soup and enjoy.

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