Dal with tamarind, tomatoes and curry leaves


Thank you Rick Stein for this recipe from Bangladesh. I am not supposed to eat tomatoes as they are acidic, but as you know I cheat on my diet every once in a while, and this is a delicious dry dal. Moreover, using other good immunity-boosting ingredients like turmeric, cumin seeds and asafetida counterbalances any acid from the tomato.

It pays to grind the cumin and coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar for an even better flavour. It may look like a long list of ingredients, but once you line them up, it is very easy to cook. We ate it with another Bangladeshi cauliflower dish for a veggie feast.

Serves 4 as a side dish

250 g toover/split pea dal
2 tbsp coconut oil
100g onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp fresh turmeric, peeled &finely chopped or 1/2 tsp powder
1 tsp freshly ground cumin seeds
1 tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
200 g chopped tomatoes – use fresh if possible
1 tbsp tamarind water or paste
4 mild green chillies, split in two and deseeded

Tempering mix:
pinch asafetida
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
12-15 curry leaves
4 cloves
10 cm/2 inch cinnamon stick
lime wedges to serve

Bring the dal to the boil in 1 litre of water, and simmer for 45 minutes until the dal is soft and the mixture is thickened.

When it is almost done, heat the 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan, add the onions and fry for 6-8 minutes until soft and golden.

Add garlic, turmeric, cumin and coriander and fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomatoes and cook until they are soft.

Add to the dal with the tamarind water and green chillies and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Now make the tempering mixture: heat the remaining tbsp oil in the frying pan. Add asafetida, mustard seeds, cumin seed, curry leaves, clove and cinnamon, cover with a lid and leave to sizzle until mustard seeds stop popping. Make sure they don’t burn!

Add to the dal, season with salt and leave to infuse for a few minutes before serving with lime wedges. Yum!

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