Urad Daal (Black Lentil Daal)

I hope you’ve all had a great bank holiday weekend. What is going on with the weather? Snow in April? Now I’ve seen it all. Bring back the sun please, I’m cold.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been over indulging the past few days. As lovely as it was, I now crave some simple healthy food. One of my absolute favourite dishes of my childhood is this black lentil (urad) daal. My Mum used to make it regularly on a Saturday afternoon and my brother and I would lap it up with a stack of homemade chapatis.

I’m not sure what it is about this dish that I love so much, call it nostalgia but to me it is pure comfort food. And comfort food doesn’t always have to be incredibly unhealthy. Lentils are so good for you and high in protein. I do cook this dish with ghee (clarified butter) but you could always use oil or coconut oil if you want to be super healthy or make it vegan, but I only use a small amount in proportion to the entire dish. Plus I love a bit of butter.

There are so many different ways to make urad daal, and this is my version. I gathered recipes from family members, cookery books and the internet and made it my own. After all this is how recipes are made and you could do the same. You could add a little less chilli than I did, or a little more tomato etc. Go with your instincts and you won’t be disappointed. This is how I made mine:

Ingredients:

  • 6 handfuls of black urad dal, washed
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2 heaped tsp ginger and garlic paste
  • 1 tsp green chillies, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 garam masala
  • 1 small bunch coriander, finely chopped
  • butter
  • a drizzle of single cream and fresh chillies for garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. Boil urad daal in a large pot of boiling water for approximately 4 hours until soft and creamy, or cook in a pressure cooker if you have one.
  2. In a separate pan on a medium heat, add a good heaped tsp of ghee or oil of your choice. Add the chopped onions and fry gently until soft. Then add the chopped tomato and sauté for another minute.
  3. When the onions and tomato have softened, add the ginger, garlic, green chillies and spices (apart from the garam masala) and cook for another minute.
  4. Add half of the chopped coriander to the onion mix and cook for a minute.
  5. When the daal is cooked, add the onion mixture to the dal and stir.
  6. Add a splash of water to the desired consistency and simmer for another 30 minutes on a low heat.
  7. When the daal is ready, add a knob of butter (optional), garam masala and the rest of the coriander and stir. If it is too thick, add another splash of water. You want the daal to be loose and creamy, but not too runny.
  8. Garnish with a drizzle of single cream and fresh chillies (again optional – I mainly did this for the picture!) and serve with fresh chapatis. Enjoy!

Let me know if you give this a try, its one of my ultimate favourites. I like to make a large batch and freeze the rest for another day. It’s a great dish for the whole family and will leave you feeling all warm and cosy. And we all know we need that right now!

Thanks for reading and please subscribe to my blog below to be the first to see my posts. Much appreciated! Have a great evening!

I am a food photographer and stylist based in Milton Keynes. Please check out my website to see more of my work at www.jbimagery.co.uk

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