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Laxmi Dal Soup

This basic legume soup is eaten in one form or another with almost every Indian meal. Serve with rice, chapatis and your favorite vegetable dish.

 1 cup dal (use moong dal, toor dal, or yellow split peas)
 4 - 5 cups water (varies with dal type and desired thickness)
 2 tsp turmeric
 1 tbsp minced ginger
 6-8 cloves minced garlic
 1 medium chopped onion
 2 medium chopped tomatoes
 2 tsp Punjabi Garam Masala (optional)
 2 tbsp light oil or ghee
 1-2 tbsp Kerala Chaunk
 small bunch cilantro or parsley to garnish
 salt to taste

Wash your dal in several changes of water, drain. Combine the dal and water in a heavy saucepan, cover and carefully bring to a boil. Lower heat, add turmeric and simmer gently for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally until the dal is soft. Add more water if the soup gets too thick.

Whisk the mixture to a smooth consistency. In a separate frying pan, sauté ginger, garlic, onion and tomatoes in 1 tbsp of oil. Add to the soup along with Punjabi Garam Masala and salt. Simmer gently for another 15 minutes.

Add the remainder of the oil to a frying pan and bring to a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add Kerala Chaunk and stir constantly until the seeds darken and begin to sputter. For a hotter dal, simply increase the amount of Chaunk. Fold the oil and Chaunk into the soup and let sit for five minutes. Garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve.