Recipe by Jabima
As the sun came shining through the windows and casting dramatic shadows on the floor, Jabima began cutting her vegetables and preparing all her ingredients for this meal. We sat on the floor with her as her story tumbled out slowly while the tomatoes and carrot were diced, cauliflower cut, and spices measured and set aside.
Vegetable Dal with Cauliflower (Lentil Soup)
Dal is a staple in the Indian kitchen. It is a comfort food had in every Indian household. The word dal literally comes from the Sanskrit root word that means "split" which refers to dried legume like lentil or pea.
A slow simmering pot of lentils with vegetables is nutritious and a vegetarian delight. Sure, you can cut the cooking time in half if you use a pressure cooker like many households do, but it cooks easily in the background while preparing other dishes. It is a perfect side for every meal that can be served with rice or roti. (1)
- 1 cup arhar dal (pigeon pea)
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 2 Tbsp mustard oil
- 3-4 cups water
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 Tbsp ghee (can be replaced with vegetable oil)
- 2-3 dried red chilies
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1-1.5 tsp salt (to taste)
- 1 tsp sugar
- Dry roast the dal in the pan or wok for about 5-7 mins. Remove from heat.
- With a fresh pan, sauté the cauliflower in 2 tablespoons of oil. Season with salt and turmeric, then cook for 3-4 minutes until cauliflower softens. Add a few tablespoons of water to keep pan from drying. Remove cooked cauliflower and set aside
- Heat up 1 Tbsp of oil to a pot with 3 Indian bay leaves and let it sizzle for a bit. Add the dal to oil plus 5 cups of water and bring to a full boil, then bring heat down to a simmer. Cover the pot and let it cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Mix in the diced tomato and carrots with 1 more cup of water, cover and simmer for another 15 minutes.
- Add previously cooked cauliflower back in the pan and season with garam masala, sugar and salt to taste. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Add an additional cup of water if it is getting too thick.
- In a separate smaller pan, heat up 2 Tbsp of ghee (or vegetable oil). Add the dry red chilies and cumin and let it sizzle for about a minute (be careful not to let burn them). This step is preparing tadka which is a tempering process that releases the essential oils of the spices as a finishing step for the dal.
- Cook until completely soft and creamy with the consistency of porridge. Add the tadka into the dal and mix well.
- Remove bay leaves before serving. Enjoy with rice or rotis.
// For quicker cooking time, you can:
- Soak the dal in water for 1 hour prior to cooking instead of the dry roasting step.
- Cook the dal in a pressure cooker.
// For a super smooth and creamy texture, try running it through a blender.