Three-Lentil Dal

  • ACTIVE: 20 MIN

Dal, the Indian name for lentils, is also the word used to describe stewy Indian lentil dishes. This simple dal, from the Taj Lake Palace hotel, is finished with a cumin-and-coriander scented oil. The mix of lentils—earthy split peas, nutty toor dal (pigeon peas are a good substitute) and creamy red lentils—add complexity to the dish.

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  1. 3/4 cup yellow split peas (4 ounces)
  2. 3/4 cup toor dal (dried split pigeon peas) (4 ounces)
  3. 3/4 cup dried red lentils (4 ounces)
  4. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  5. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  6. 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  7. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  8. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  10. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  11. 1 large tomato, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  12. Salt
  13. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  14. 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  1. In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, cover the yellow split peas, toor dal and red lentils with 1 1/2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the red lentils and toor dal break down and the split yellow peas are tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and cook over moderate heat until they darken, 1 minute. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden brown, 6 minutes. Add the coriander, turmeric and cayenne and cook, stirring a few times, until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the tomato and cook until softened, 3 minutes. Scrape the mixture into the dal and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are blended, 3 minutes. Season with salt. Stir in the butter and cilantro and serve.
Make Ahead
The dal without the butter and cilantro can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently, adding water as necessary if the dal is too thick.