Easy Authentic Daal

We all have those meals that our parents made for us when they didn’t feel like making anything else. For many of us, what was once a boring childhood staple eventually evolved into being a favourite comfort meal as we got older. I know that this was certainly the case for me, and oftentimes when I travel or am away from home for an extended period of time, I find myself missing the daal that my mom makes. 

A wooden cutting board with chopped tomato, onion, Thai chili and a mound of minced ginger.

For my non Indian friends, I’ve always liked to describe daal as being Indian lentil soup. It’s the easiest way to get them to understand what the food is, exactly, but it doesn’t do the dish the justice it deserves. Daal is a curry based dish made of lentils and seasoned with an array of warming spices. It’s most commonly eaten with rice or with rotis, both of which are staples in any Indian kitchen. It’s the perfect food for a fall day when you’ve got a little too much on your plate but still want a nice comforting meal. Get some spices toasting in the pressure cooker, add your water and lentils, let it go for a few minutes and boom: you have a delicious meal waiting for you. 

Additionally, daal is one of those meals that heats up beautifully. If you’re a meal prepper and want an extra boost of protein, making a big batch of daal and keeping it in the freezer until you need it is a fantastic option!

Authentic Daal

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 – 40 mins
Serves 6 – 8

1 1/2 cups dried lentils
1 medium onion
1 medium tomato
1 Thai chili
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp minced garlic

2 tsp salt
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp Kitchen King masala
1 heaping tsp ground cumin
4 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
coriander to taste

1. Spread the lentils out onto a plate in small batches. Go through them relatively thoroughly to pick out any small stones or overly dried grains. These will not cook down and become soft, and are very unpleasant to bite into! Poor the sifted lentils into a bowl.

A mound of black and green lentils on a white plate, next to a silver bowl filled with more lentils.

2. Once all the lentils have been sifted, give them a rinse before covering in water and allowing to soak while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

3. Finely dice the onion, tomato and Thai chili and set aside.

4. Heat the oil on medium high in the pot of the pressure cooker. Add the garlic and cumin seeds, and toast until sizzling and the cumin seeds have turned slightly brown. This shouldn’t take very long, and you want to be careful not to overcook it!

5. Add the diced tomato, onion, chili and ginger. Cook until the onions turn translucent and most of the water from the tomatoes has evaporated.

6. Add salt, garam masala, Kitchen King masala and ground cumin. Stir to combine.

7. Drain the lentils that have been soaking and add them to the pressure cooker. Stir everything to combine.

8. Add the water and stir once again before sealing the pressure cooker. Turn heat to high and allow to cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until the whistle of the pressure cooker goes off for the first time.

9. Once the whistle has gone off, lower the heat to medium high and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Once the daal has finished cooking, turn off the heat and allow the pressure to release naturally.

10. Stir in fenugreek leaves, and top with roughly chopped coriander to taste. Pour into a bowl and enjoy!

A top down view of a pressure cooker filled with daal, sprinkled with chopped green coriander leaves.

– I like to top my daal with some finely diced onions for a little extra flavour and crunch
– Every pressure cooker is a little different, I would recommend following the instructions above for the first attempt, and then adjust accordingly to how your pressure cooker works!

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