It is funny I happen to be so in love with this recipe considering my recent years’ preference not to eat lentils. Lentil soup is a traditional Bulgarian staple and we learn to eat it since childhood. After my not-so-very-short 8 year period of residing abroad, I came back to mom’s lentil soup with non-excitement. It was just too plain for me.
A couple of months ago my dear yoga student and friend Inga cooked dinner for me after practice. She prepared a themed Indian dinner with Dal (made with beans), amazing salad and special bread. Needless to say, we had a blast – it was so yummy we could hardly stop munching. I left the house determined to make my own Dal someday soon.
Well, it took some weeks but one evening I was watching 24 Kitchen (my preferred channel, especially during the week) and there was Sophie making lentil Dal on the screen. I was interested as it showed me a new way to cook the lentils I no longer enjoyed (which is a pity as lentils are very healthy). I watched carefully, even took out a sheet of paper and jotted down the list of spices necessary to prepare the famous garam massala. If you have garam massala you can obviously use that, but I found it intriguing to learn how to do the mix on my own by combining various spices in specific proportions.
As you can imagine, already on the next evening I cooked my first lentil Dal and it was mind-blowing – so many aromas intertwined so perfectly to give you that exotic yet super delicious dish.
Without any further ado, here is the recipe you will want to print, put up on the fridge and prepare at least once a week. Enjoy!
Ingredients for about 8-9 big muffins
1 cup (210-250gr) lentils (red or any type you have)
3 cm fresh ginger, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp ghee (or butter)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cummin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/3 tsp ground cloves
1/3 ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 stem spring onion - to garnish
Prepare the lentils: place lentils, ginger, bay leaves and cinnamon stick in a saucepan with 3 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring to prevent sticking for 10-12 minutes. Remove the spices and set aside.
2. Prepare the mixture of spices: heat the ghee or butter in a large frying pan over a medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the crushed garlic, turmeric, cumin, chilli flakes and all other spices. Cook for a further minute or until fragrant. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt.
3. Now add the lentils to the pan and mix well. Cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Chop the spring onions and sprinkle on top. Serve hot with Indian naan bread or sourdough toasted bread.