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Red Lentil Dal with Tamarind and Asparagus

During her stay in Bangladesh, Naomi Duguid fell in love with dals (soupy lentil dishes) known as tok dal, or tart dal. "They all have an intriguing balance of tartness from tamarind and lime, and sweetness from slow-cooked onions." While asparagus isn't a traditional ingredient, Duguid was inspired to add it because Bangladesh is so fertile, and many green vegetables grow there.

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

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  • 1 cup masur dal (red lentils), rinsed
  • 1 quart water
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 serrano chile, halved lengthwise
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound thin asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate blended with 1 tablespoon hot water
  • Salt


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils with the water and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam and stir in 1/8 teaspoon of the turmeric. Cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils break down, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and cook over moderate heat until they start to pop, 1 minute. Add the fennel seeds, coriander, chile and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the garlic and onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 minutes.
  3. Add the asparagus to the skillet. Cover and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the lentils and dissolved tamarind and bring to a simmer. Season the dal with salt.


One Serving: 321 cal, 15 gm fat, 1 gm sat fat, 34 gm carb, 9 gm fiber, 15 gm protein.

Serve With

Lime wedges and rice.

Suggested Pairing

Vibrant Grüner Veltliner.

Contributed By Photo © John Kernick Published May 2012

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