masala daal

Daaaaaaaaaaal. Flashes of India flood my brain, I miss that place. It was so easy to just roam the streets in wonder, soaking up culinary delights around every corner. Daal is a staple, with a million variations, and of course I have my own, it’s a simple rendition that takes little time, great for a meal in a pinch.

Honestly, this months been really tight and our budget is stretched to say the least. As nice as it is to eat paleo and have bacon and free range beef and a fridge brimming with vegetables all the time, it’s not always realistic. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think its right to sacrifice our need to feed ourselves good food. That’s why I have such a hard time buying commercially raised meats, once you witness just how unethically these animals are treated its hard to turn back. Ignorance is bliss, and my bliss is running out. Once in awhile compromises have to be made, and lentils are one thing that I always keep on hand for rainy days.

Other cheap eats that still nourish and sustain are free-range eggs, which really offer a lot for the price. Kale is another nutrient dense veg that doesn’t hurt the wallet. And of course having plenty of spices always makes life more exciting. Sometimes I surprise myself by what I can create from what seems like sparsity. Often some genius creations come out of being strapped for cash.

masala daal

As far as legumes go, lentils are pretty easy to digest and if you soak them first it greatly increases the bioavailability of their nutrients. Lentils are actually quite high in a lot of minerals, and they have a surprising amount of iron, 1 cup is 40% of the RDI.

But enough of that nerd speak. They’re delicious, cheap, and you can store them for a long time. This masala daal warms my heart every time I eat it and should be enjoyed with a nice dollop of plain yogurt, India style.

Masala Daal
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 2 C red lentils
  • 1 tsp coconut oil or ghee
  • 6 C chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeƱo or other hot chile, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ C plain yogurt for serving
  • cilantro and green onion, chopped for garnish (optional)
  1. In a sauce pan or pot add lentils and chicken stock. Cook lentils until soft, about 15 minutes.
  2. In a large skillet add oil until melted, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds and cook until the start to literally pop.
  3. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook until aromatic and slightly browned.
  4. Add garam masala, tomato paste and a bit of stock from the lentils just to get everything moving. Cook for a few minutes and add lentils and the rest of the chicken stock, let this simmer for another 10 minutes, add salt to taste and serve with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and green onions

masala daal

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