An Indian meal is considered incomplete unless it is accompanied by daal, a well-known dish of lentils with vegetables and Indian spices. The word “daal” just means “lentils” and is generally followed by the type of preparation such as daal tadka (tempered lentils), daal masala (Spicy Lentils) or daal palak (lentils with spinach). Daal preparations differ from one part of India to another; each one just as wholesome and delicious.
This is a daal tadka made using the slow cooker and yellow split lentils, also called toor lentils. In case you feel like a quicker daal, make it in a pressure cooker (10-15 minutes) or in a pot on the stove (about 40 minutes). The tempering step at the end of the cooking process is a must as it awakens the full potential of the daal.
1½ cups yellow split lentils or toor lentils
½ a medium onion, finely chopped
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves or 2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of half lemon
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 clove or ½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 whole Serrano pepper
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
¼ teaspoon chili powder
Wash the lentils and add 4 cups of water to them in a slow cooker insert. Add the onion, tomatoes, garlic, turmeric powder and salt to the lentils. Cover and let it cook on low for 5 hours. Check if the lentils are almost done; you will feel a slight bite to them.
Have all the tempering ingredients ready . Heat canola oil in a pan on a stovetop till it shimmers (should be hot). Turn off the heat. To this hot oil, add the cumin seeds, garlic, Serrano pepper and dry spices. Everything should sizzle in the pan. (Watch out for splattering spices during this process.)
Stir this tempering into the hot daal in the slow cooker. Add cilantro leaves. Turn the slow cooker to high and let the daal cook for another hour, which allows the flavors to blend . At this stage, check the daal’s consistency and add more hot water if required.
Serve hot with a dash of lemon and brown basmati rice or gluten-free bread.