Bengal style Dal

Dal is one of my favorite Indian food side dishes. My husband hates it because he just hates lentils, and I occasionally hate it because there are so many ways of making dal. You can have the more watery, soupy kind or the more dry kind. You can do so many things with it, yet I only like it a select few ways.
I got this dal recipe a long time ago from a random 1970s book on curries found on a friend's bookshelf. I made a copy and have made this recipe so many times, however, I no longer remember the original book. I've made some edits to make this recipe less sweet and closer to my tastes, but it's really wonderful as a side for Indian food. This dal is not as soupy (but could be more so). If you desire a sweeter dal, add some golden raisins while they are cooking.
Bengal style Dal
  • 9 oz chana dal
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • cilantro and raisins (or prunes) for garnish
  • oil, salt, water
  1. Soak dal water for 20 minutes. drain.
  2. Cook dal for 20 minutes in 2 1/2 cups water for 20 minutes. Add 1 tsp salt. In a separate pan, sautee garlic, ginger, chili and bay leaf.  After 2 minutes, add spices and stir. Then add tomato and cook 4 minutes.
  3. Add mixture to dal and boil until grains are very soft but still separate. Add more water as necessary and adjust to taste with salt and sugar.