Making Lentil Soup

Mallika Basu - Making Lentil Soup

Posted 15th November 2006

char-dhal.jpgIn this miserable cold weather, what better than a bowl of hot soup to cheer anyone up? I picked an organic lentil soup from the supermarket shelf this week in the vain hope of drinking dhal at my desk.

But dhal it wasn’t. More like boiled lentils.

I immediately wrote to the manufacturers asking them to change key ingredients like parsley and carrots to coriander and tomatoes. No reply yet. Is this how Simplyorganics treats its valued customers?

Anyway, dhal soup got me thinking. About dhal and about soup. Drinking dhal on its own is not common practice in India. But I love soup and if a curry house is allowed to call sludge food, why can’t I drink dhal?

So this week I tried a new soup – a dhal inspired by the Hyderabadi Char Dhal ka Dalcha. It’s a combination of four lentils, with added masalas, and can be versatile to accompany rice, roti and just drunk as soup. But I’m slowly running out of ideas and I’d be really interested to hear about your great soup recipes.
This recipe would either serve 3 as soup with crusty bread or 5-6 with rice:

Quarter cup toor lentils
Quarter cup chana lentils
2 tbsp moong lentils
2 tbsp masoor (red) lentils
1 onion, sliced fine
1″ ginger, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 tsp chilli powder
Half tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp whole cumin
3 dry whole red chillies
10 curry leaves
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tsp ghee
1 tsp tamarind paste
4 cups of water
Salt to taste

Wash the dhal until the water from them runs clear. In a pot, put the lentils, the turmeric, half a teaspoon of chilli powder. Boil the lentils on a medium high flame, stirring from time to time.

You need to keep adding water when the mixture dries up to make sure the lentils cook. Or just pressure cook the whole lot.
In a small pan, heat the sunflower oil and when hot fry the ginger and garlic. When they start turning brown, add the onions and fry until they start going brown too.

Mix this into the lentils when the lentils look like they are almost cooked. They will start getting a smooth consistency with the chana lentils retaining their shape but going soft and squidgy.

In the same pot that you fried the onions, heat the ghee and fry the whole cumin seeds, the whole red chillies and the curry leaves. When the curry leaves start letting out a glorious aroma, add the mixture into the lentils.

Stir the dhal well and simmer for 5 minutes, mixing in the tamarind paste and salt to taste.

Now your turn. Send me the links to your favourite soup recipe before I succumb to supermarket soup…

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