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This rich, creamy dal recipe from Madhur Jaffrey works perfectly as an Indian vegetarian main dish, served with rice, or as an accompaniment to a meat curry.

From the book


Indians tend to eat protein-rich legumes with many everyday meals.

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350g (12oz) split red lentils (masoor dal)
½ tsp ground turmeric
1¼–1½ tsp salt
3 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
1generous pinch of ground asafoetida
1 tsp cumin seeds
3–5 dried hot red chillies


Pick over the lentils for any grit. Place them in a bowl and wash in several changes of water. Drain the lentils and put them in a heavy-based pan with 1.2 litres (2 pints) water and the turmeric. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook the lentils over low heat for 35–40 minutes or until the lentils are tender, stirring occasionally

Add the salt to the lentils, mix and leave, covered, over low heat. Heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a frying pan over fairly high heat and, when hot, add the asafoetida followed by the cumin seeds. Let the cumin seeds sizzle for a few seconds and then add the chillies. As soon as they turn dark red – this takes just a few seconds – pour the contents of the frying pan into the lentils and mix.


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