Mountain Dal

Serves     4-6


1 cup mung dal, washed and drained
5 to 6 cups water
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt

Tempering (balancing spices)

2 to 3 dried red chilies, stemmed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
3 cloves
1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
Seeds from 2 green cardamom pods
5 or 6 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon mustard oil
1 cup finely chopped onions


Put dal into a large pot with 5 cups water and the turmeric and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a strong simmer, partially cover, and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the dal is almost mushy. For a more liquid texture add another ½ to 1 cup water. When the dal has finished cooking add the salt.

Meanwhile grind together the chilies, coriander, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and pepper in a spice grinder. Set aside.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil, then the chopped onions and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the ground spice blend and stir-fry for 1 to 2 more minutes, add to the pot of dal. Simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors, serve over bhat (steamed rice).


Notes and Instructions

In Nepal, rice and lentils rule. Dal bhat (rice and lentils) is eaten every day, several times a day, over and over! You can substitute red lentils for split mung (yellow) dal,w hich may be easier to find and will cook faster as well. If you use regular brown lentils you will need to cook them much longer in order to obtain the soupy consistency desired.

Adapted from: Mangoes and Curry Leaves by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid