Meatless Monday – Fragrant Indian Dal


Spice up your Meatless Monday with a traditional Indian dish of Dal. This mildly spiced version perfumes the kitchen with ginger, turmeric, and tomato, and fills your belly with protein-packed chickpeas.

1 cup dried, split chickpeas (chana dal)
6 cups water
3 tablespoons butter or ghee (clarified butter)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, crushed with the bottom of a heavy pot
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 red onion, cut into brunoise dice or minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ red chili pepper (fresno), minced
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
2 medium tomatoes (preferably yellow, if available), seeds removed and cut into medium dice
1, 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup vegetable stock (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup minced cilantro

Place the split chickpeas in a large strainer and rinse them under cool water. Transfer them to a medium sauce pot and cover with 6 cups water. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the split chickpeas to simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. Strain the cooked chickpeas from the water and set aside.

Set a large saute pan over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the ground ginger, turmeric, coriander, crushed cumin seeds, and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir the spices for 15 seconds before adding in the diced onion. Sweat the onion for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the minced garlic, minced red chili pepper, salt, and white pepper; cook for 1 minute. Transfer the diced tomato to the pan and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until the tomato releases its juice and becomes pulpy.

Pour the cooked and drained split chickpeas, along with the canned chickpeas, into the saute pan of vegetables and spices; stir to combine then taste and correct the seasoning with additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice. If you prefer dal to have more liquid, add the optional vegetable stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Finish the dish by folding in the minced cilantro. Serve with a simple salad of diced tomato, red onion, cilantro, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Alternative serving suggestions – Dal is traditionally served with steamed rice and/or naan, a traditional Indian flat bread.

This recipe makes 6 servings.