Dal is a generic term for a dish made with lentils, sometimes with vegetables. It is probably a term coined outside of India to incorporate the wealth of different thick and semi-thick dishes made with lentils. Within India, lentil dishes that fit into that category are infinite in variety, varying in the lentil used, the spices used, the consistency and the vegetables incorporated. Each will have a different name, and even the change of 1 spice or 1 other ingredient (e.g. whether coconut is included or not) might change the name of the dish completely.
However, the recipe for this dish came to me with only the title Dal. It is probably Sri Lankan influenced, and is as simple as an be. But all dishes from this source are both simple AND amazingly flavoursome. It comes from the monks of the Kauai Aadheenam.
The monks used this dal for lunch and served it just with rice and a vegetable dish. It is made with toor dal, that beautiful creamy, slightly sweet dal that is also used for sambar, pitlai, kothsu and other related dishes, which is cooked with a little coconut mik. Toor dal can take a while to cook, depending on its age and quality, so allow enough time.
Have a look at all of our Dal recipes and all of our recipes made with Toor Dal. Or explore all of our Sri Lankan dishes and all of our Indian Recipes. Alternatively, have a look at our Late Autumn collection of recipes.
Simple Monk’s Dal
1 cup toor dal
1 Tblspn coconut milk
2 cups water
0.25 tspn brown mustard seeds
0.25 tspn urad dal
0.25 tspn cumin seeds
1 onion, chopped small
0.5 Tblspn ghee
sea salt to taste
Soak the toor dal for an hour or too – longer if there is time. Cook the toor dal in water until it is soft and mushy. This will take between 40 mins and 90 mins, depending on soaking time and the age of your toor dal.
Add the turmeric and salt to taste, and the coconut milk. Mix well.
Heat the ghee and add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the cumin seeds. After a moment add the urad dal, then the onion. As the onion becomes golden, pour it with the ghee and spices onto the cooked toor dal and stir in.
Garnish with coriander leaves if desired. Serve over rice and enjoy.
recipe notes and alternatives
Add curry leaves and a dried red chilli with the onions.