Lemony Cilantro Dal

serves 4

Yellow dal is the basic b*tch of Indian home cooking.  Served at almost any meal, it can be either a side or the main attraction. These split and husked yellow lentils called moong or mung are easy to digest, cook relatively quickly and are full of protein.  Cook this dal up thick like a puree to eat with rice as an entree or thin it out with water and serve it like a soup. If you are into savory breakfasts, this filling bowl might just be your new favorite breakfast.  Double or triple the recipe and freezer in single serving portions so you always have a good protein on hand.

1 cup of moong dal (split and husked mung beans)
2 tablespoons of ghee or coconut oil
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1/4 teaspoon asofetida or garlic powder
pinch of red chili flake
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
3 tablespoons of lemon juice, from about 1 1/2 lemons
1/2 cup of finely chopped cilantro

1. In a fine mesh strainer, thoroughly rinse the moong dal in running water until the water runs clear.  Sift through the lentils to make sure there are no stones, husks, or dirt. 

2. Put the lentils in a medium-sized pot and cover with 3 inches of water.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, and let this cook for about 45-60 minutes.  Skim off any foam that forms on the top and add more water if necessary, but mostly you can leave it alone.  You want the lentils to get fully softened (with no grittiness) and start to fall apart. Then give them a few buzzes with an immersion blender to make a smoother puree.  You should end up with about 4 cups of a medium-bodied puree.

3. Take a small skillet and heat the ghee or oil. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and let these cook for about 30 seconds until they start to sizzle and pop. Quickly add the turmeric and asofetida or garlic powder and stir.  Turn off the heat and add a ladleful of the lentils to the small skillet—it’s gonna sizzle!  Pour the whole mixture into the large pot of lentils and stir.

4.Add the 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, lemon juice and cilantro.  Taste to see if it needs more salt or lemon juice and then serve.