The Hindi word dal is a catchall name for over 60 varieties of dried peas, beans, and lentils, as well as the name of the vegetarian dish they appear in. In this version, yellow split peas are simmered in water until completely broken down, and brightened up with lemon juice. Then, cumin seeds and turmeric are sizzled in butter along with garlic, ginger, and serrano chile to add color, heat, and texture to the dish. Add some chopped spinach to the infused butter, cook until wilted, and stir it all into the dal. This filling recipe makes a generous amount, so be sure to steam plenty of rice for leftovers.
What to buy: This dal is made with yellow split peas (called channa dal), but you can substitute other varieties like red or green lentils or split chickpeas. Find them in the bulk or ethnic section of most well-stocked grocery stores or online. Just make sure to taste the dal for consistency while it’s simmering and adjust the cooking time as needed.
Game plan: This dal recipe has mild spicing, but if you want to crank up the heat, add another serrano or two.