Lentils with Cumin Seeds (dal)


Source: Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking adapted by Barbara Pistrang

7 oz lentils, picked over, washed and drained
1-3/4 pints water
2 thin slices unpeeled ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
3 T ghee or vegetable oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 T finely chopped, fresh green coriander

Combine lentils and water in a heavy pan. Bring to a simmer. Remove any scum that collects at the top. Add the ginger and turmeric. Stir to mix. Cover, leaving the lid very slightly ajar, turn heat to low and simmer gently 1-/2 hours or until the lentils are tender. Stir every five minutes during the last 30 minutes to prevent sticking. Add the salt and stir to mix. Remove the ginger slices.


Put the ghee or oil in a small frying pan and set over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Add the coriander and cayenne. Stir once and then quickly pour the contents of the frying pan into the pan with the lentils. Stir to mix. Sprinkle fresh coriander over the top when you serve.