Exploring Puerto Rico

Exploring Puerto Rico
At Cafe Puerto Rico in Old San Juan

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My killer daal (lentil soup)

I think daal becomes our version of comfort food once outside of Bangladesh. I must say that I hate the watery type, but I am a fan of many variations: plain with fried onions and garlic, with tomatoes, or sometimes with slices of lemon and paneer (Indian cheese), or even yet with just a dash of cinnamon and paach faran (5 spices). Ok, I have already divulged 4 different recipes.
What's important to me about daal is that it be "ghono daal" aka thick that can be scooped by some naan bread but always preferable with white rice. Haha, mind you  I said white rice. As many of you know, I have recently painfully switched to eating brown rice as it's healthier and poor Mustafa has to endure it as I am usually in charge of the groceries and of course my haven, THE kitchen!

So now, I have completed a full meal on my blog: a meat dish (chicken curry), veggies (eggplant dish) and daal. This is a typical meal in our household. Albeit, I almost always have a second veggie dish. This time, I made a stir fry of sugar snap peas with sliced potatoes. Picture did not come out as nice, so decided to leave out.

DAAL WITH TOMATOES  (Lentil soup with tomatoes)

-- 1/2 cup masoor daal (I like to make only one small pot as I tend to cook regularly and don't like too many leftovers. Sometimes I add in 1/4 cup of roasted moog daal as well)
-- 1 cup of warm water (add later if needed)
-- Half of a medium sized red onion sliced
-- 3 garlic cloves minced
-- 1 roma tomato diced
-- Spices: 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp red chilli, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cumin
-- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
-- 1/4 bunch of cilantro minced
-- 3 Tbsp canola oil
-- Salt to taste

1. Wash the lentils well under running water and make sure you discard of any small stones. Add in the water and turmeric and set on stove on high. When the water boils, turn down the heat to low and partially cover with lid and let boil for about 15-20 min until mushy. Stir every few minutes to help break the lentils. I use a whip as it helps speed the process. If the mixture dries up, add more water to the consistency you like.
2. When well mushy, add salt to taste, stir well, cover and let cook in low heat.
3. In the mean time, in a small saucepan, heat up the oil and fry the onion until a little browned. Add the garlic and fry for another 1-2 min until fragrant and not burnt! Add the spices and stir for about a minute.
4. Throw in the tomatoes and fry for 2-3 min until soft. You can break them up some more with your wooden spoon (sometimes if I am in a hurry, I take a potato masher and mash the tomatoe mixture right in the saucepan with all the oil and onion mixture).
5. Add the tomato mixture to the daal and stir well. Squirt in the lemon juice and taste for salt.
6. Right before taking off from heat, sprinkle a little cumin and the cilantro (sometimes, I add in some sliced green chillis. But my mom always warned me that a good daal is never too spicy. So I usually abide with that rule).

Now, it's YOUR turn to let me know how this recipe turns out for you. Or even better, do share your daal variations!


  1. I made it this weekend. I doubled the quantity and used moong daal also... it was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s - according to my husband... i think you told me how to make this plenty of times before, but it finally turned out the way it should...

  2. Shahreen, I am super excitd that you finally were able to emulate my recipe. I know I explained many times over the phone or even demonstrated the recipe in front of you, but you always claimed that what you made turned up different. And Joy liking it is definitely a good barometer :-) Will keep on posting deshi dishes and let me know if good or bad.