Rinki's Dhal Curry

Indian Dhal Curry
Brazilians are to vegetarians as cats are to water therefore, being Brazilian, I had never thought about vegetables as whole meal and never expected that Vegetarian food could be so tasty until I met my friend Rinki.

Rinki, that used to work with me, is from India and for religious reasons she does not eat any sort of meat.   First time I tried her Dhal Curry at our lunch break in the office I almost ate all her lunch! I fell in love immediately by the depth of flavors of the Indian food.      

My first tries of making it at home were quite frustrated and only when I actually saw her preparing it I understood the technique and manage to write down the recipe as she never followed an actually recipe for it.

The most important thing to know is that adding the spices to the dish is just not enough - you have to temper the spices by frying them slowly for 10-15 min and, using Rinki's words, "wake them up".    This is not only truth to the Dhal curry but also to any curry.  When you follow her recipe don't skip this step!

Another important point is the quality of the "masalas" (read here spices, I learned that masala means spice),  if possible, ignore the supermarket stuff and buy the spices in an Indian shop - they are cheaper and fresher.


For a Vegan version of the recipe, simply replace the Ghee by olive oil during the preparation and don't add Ghee when serving. 

Enjoy with rice and some nice homemade Naan Bread.


Rinki’s Dhal Curry

1 cup of red lentils
1 cup of frozen green peas
1 large onion thinly diced
1 large tomato thinly diced
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 piece of fresh ginger, size of a small thumb, grinded
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon of powder cayenne pepper or curry chilli
1 teaspoon of Garam Masala
½ teaspoon of Turmeric
1 teaspoon of dried powdered coriander
1 shallow tablespoon of Meat Masala
½ cup of curry leaves
2 tablespoons of fennel Greek dried leaves
2 tablespoons of Ghee (replace for olive oil for Vegan)
1/8 cup of olive oil
Fresh coriander to garnish
Salt to Taste

Soak the red lentils in water and leave it while you start the preparation.

Put the olive and one tablespoon of Ghee in a large pot. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and fry it until the seeds start to pop. Add the onions and leave it frying for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and fry it again for another couple of minutes. Add some salt to sweat the onions and leave it in low heat until onions are soft and start to brown.

Turn to high heat again and add the tomatoes, in medium heat fry it really well for about 5 min.

In the meantime, put the Garam Masala, Turmeric, Chilli, powdered coriander and meat masala in a small bowl and add enough water only to cover it.

Add the spices mixture with water to the pot, stir well and leave it frying in low heat for about 10 min to let the flavors develop stirring occasionally and adding tablespoons of water if necessary – this is step is very important, don’t skip it otherwise it won’t have the same depth of flavor! At the end you should have almost like a spiced pure of onions and tomatoes and you may see some essential oil from the spices.

Drain the lentil in case there is any water left and add them to the pot stirring again and making sure the lentils are coated with the spice mixture.

Add about 1 liter of water and stir in the Fennel Greek and Curry leaves.

Bring it to boil and let it simmer until the lentils are melting. Add the frozen peas, again bring it to boil and leave it until you have a thick soup like mixture.

Stir in a generous tablespoon of Ghee until it is melted. Add Salt to taste and serve with Basmati rice and fresh Naan Bread.

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Rachel Elich

Rachel Elich is a globetrotting, computer engineer, project manager, designer, untamed cook extraordinaire who backpacks around the world. Along the way on adventures, Rachel has adopted and incorporated international influences into all aspects of her creative work endeavours.

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