This sweetish-sour dal, complexly flavored with garlic, chiles, tamarind, jaggery, and mustard-infused oil, is great tasting and satisfying. It can be made very quickly in the microwave if you already have a batch of cooked lentils; otherwise allow an additional fifteen minutes' cooking time. It makes a lovely side-dish dal as well as a first-course soup.


  • Lentils
    • 1 cup dried red lentils, (Masoor Dal)
    • 2.5 cups water
    • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsps jaggery, unsulfured molasses, or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp tamarind concentrate, or 2 tsps lemon juice
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 3 tbsps ghee, or light vegetable oil
  • 1.5 tsps minced garlic
  • 2 hot green chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely sliced
  • 1 small tomato, finely chopped with skin
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsps finely chopped fresh coriander


1. Lentils (can make ahead of time): Pick clean lentils and rinse in several changes of water. Place lentils, water, and turmeric in a 2-1/2 quart microwave-safe dish.

Cook, uncovered, at 100% power in a 650- to 700-watt carousel oven for 15 minutes (or until the lentils are cooked soft and most of the liquid is absorbed into them, stirring twice.

Remove from oven and cover with the lid. Let lentils stand for 5 minutes. Uncover and whisk with a beater until lentils are puréed. Measure purée. There should be about 2-1/2 cups; if not add enough water to make that quantity. For a thinner puree, stir in more water to yield 3 cups.
2. Add jaggery, tamarind, and salt to lentils, cover with a lid. Cook at 100% power in the microwave for 5 minutes (or until steaming hot). Remove from oven and set aside, covered.
3. Heat ghee or oil in an 8" microwave-safe skillet, uncovered, at 100% power for 2 minutes. Add garlic and chiles. Cook, uncovered, at 100% power for 30 seconds (or until garlic looks lightly fried and cooked). Remove from the oven. Add tomatoes along with the cumin and cayenne.
4. Cook, uncovered, at 100% power for 3 minutes (or until the tomatoes lose their raw aroma and turn soft. Remove from oven.
5. Uncover lentil purée and pour the entire contents of the browning skillet over it. Mix well and serve sprinkled with coriander.


The dal may be made ahead and set aside for several hours, covered, at room temperature, and served reheated. It may also be refrigerated for 3 eays, but the fragrance of the spices will numb. To invigorate the dal, add a new batch of spice-infused oil and some fresh herbs.




Julie Sahni


3 cups




Asian : Southern : Indian