Bengali cuisine is renowned for its exquisite flavors, and one dish that truly exemplifies this is Bengali Dal. Dal, or lentils, holds a special place in South Asian cuisine, and each region in South Asia has its unique take on this humble dish. In this blog post, we’ll take you on a culinary journey to discover the delightful world of Bengali Dal.
Lentils are a cheap and easy way to get a good amount of protein into a meal. In South Asia, it’s full of flavor, like turmeric, onions and fried garlic.
To make the lentils itself start by washing a cup of red lentils. You can find this in almost any grocery store in the South Asian/Indian section. Once rinsed, set aside.
In a medium pot, melt a few tablespoons of good quality butter or ghee (clarified butter). Add the rinsed dal toast until it changes color and turns lightly golden, mixing continuously to prevent burning.
Add lots of water (loooots of water)—about 6 cups. Then season with turmeric, salt, and 1/4 of a medium sliced onion. Mix well and bring to a boil. Then immediately lower heat, cover, and simmer gently. Mix occasionally until the lentils completely break down and most of the water has evaporated.
Mix dal with a whisk or immersion blender to break down the individual lentils even further m and get a smoother dal. The consistency is your choice!
Tadka is a topping for dal that is essentially a garlic chili oil. To make it, start my heating a cookie tablespoons of ghee in a pan, or any high smoke point oil. Then add sliced garlic and cook on medium until it turns lightly golden. Add dried red chilis for heat and a sprinkling of mustard seeds. Once the garlic is golden brown and the mustard seeds starts popping-it’s ready! Quickly take the pan and pour everything straight into the pot of hot dal. Mix and it’s ready to enjoy!
Toppings and Servings
Dal tastes extra delicious when topped with freshly chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon. It’s great served alongside bread, flatbread like naan, or steamed rice like jasmine or basmati. If you’re low carb, you can even eat it as a soup!
Time: 1 hour
- 1 cup red lentils, washed and drained
- 2 tbsp butter or ghee
- 6 cups of water
- 1/4 onion, sliced
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
For the Tadka
- 2 tbsp ghee or any high smoke point oil
- 7-8 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 dried red chilis
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds
- Melt butter in a medium sized pot. Add rinsed lentils and toast, stirring, until lightly golden
- Add water, turmeric, salt, and sliced onions. Bring to a boil on high heat, then turn down to low and cover, simmering gently. Mix occasionally to prevent the bottom from sticking
- Once lentils have broke down, about 45 minutes to an hour, whisk or blend for a smoother texture
- In a separate pan, melt ghee and add sliced garlic. Once lightly golden, add dried red chilis and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds pop and garlic is golden brown, immediately pour everything into the dal pot
- Garnish with cilantro and lemon juice and serve with pita, naan, or rice, and enjoy!
Bengali Dal is not just a simple lentil dish; it’s a celebration of flavors, spices, and the unique culinary traditions of Bengal.