(Chard and the) Real Dal

Oh you beautiful dal.

Whatever gets you through those long winter nights, ducklings. I’m over here having raptures over vegetables, so I’m not about to diss anyone’s choice of toys. And while this is indeed a wonderful winter dish, I make it year-round because it’s a one-pot stovetop effort that makes 5 or 6 servings and freezes really well. If you want something for just a grab-n-go during the week, this dal will more than meet your needs.

A healthier variation on Masoor (red lentil) Dal, it leaves out all the butter/ghee, but is still plenty flavorful thanks to the tomato and spices. The chard adds a welcome sweetness to the heat of the spices and the acid of the tomato and lemon.

Ingredients

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 1 T ginger root, minced or grated
  • 1 T brown mustard seed
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch red chili flakes
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, chopped, with juice
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 1 qt. low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 1 bunch red or rainbow chard, cleaned, stemmed, and chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (can use other half for garnish)
  • chopped cilantro for garnish if desired

In a soup pot or dutch oven, saute onion in the olive oil plus 2 T water over medium heat until the onions start to sweat and turn translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or two. Add the salt and spices (adding more water by the tablespoon to keep them from sticking) and cook for another minute. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes start to soften. Stir in the tomato paste until smooth and saucy.

Add the vegetable broth and 2 cups of water along with the red lentils. Raise the heat and bring the pot to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the lentils are tender and the dal has gotten thick. Add chard and lemon juice and cook another 5-10 minutes to let the chard wilt and the flavors intermingle.

Remove the bay leaf before serving. Serve in a bowl or over (basmati/brown) rice, topped off with lemon slices and that wicked herb, cilantro, if you can stand it.

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