Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dal: Indian Spiced Red Lentil Soup with a Kick!

Since moving to San Francisco, Indian cuisine has become one of my favorite genres of food. Everything about Indian food makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and gets my tummy grumbling away. Chicken Tikka Masala and Palak Gosht, a super hot (I'm talking 4 jalapenos with seeds kind of hot) lamb and spinach dish are two of my favorites; both I have successfully recreated at home with much fanfare. Dal is something I always enjoy whenever an Indian restaurant visit is upon me, but it's not something I had been able to find a recipe for that didn't require me to visit an Indian grocery store. Then while perusing the Food Network website the other day, I came across a Dal recipe created by Wolfgang Puck. I made several alterations to the recipe, but what I ended up with came out quite tasty and fragrant...just ask my coworkers who every day this week have asked me "Ooooh something smells good, what are you eating?"

2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups diced onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 jalapeno peppers, cored, seeded and minced (I like my dal spicy, so I left the seeds in from 1 of the jalapenos)
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups red lentils
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
2 tablespoons Garam Masala (an Indian spice blend that can be found at specialty stores - I like the one from Penzeys)
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 bay leaf
1 cup diced tomatoes
3/4 tablespoon rice vinegar
32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth

1. In a large pot, melt the buttter and stir-fry the onions just until wilted, do not brown.
2. Add the garlic, jalapeno, cumin, lentils, ginger, garam masala, salt, pepper, sugar and bay leaf. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes, until you can smell of the spices fills your kitchen.
3. Add the tomatoes and deglaze with the vinegar.
4. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally.

Servings: Makes about 6, 1 1/2 cup (~13 oz) servings

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