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Masur Dal

Dal refers to at least 60 kinds of dishes made from beans, peas or lentils. One of the most common dals in India is made from channa, the Indian chickpea. Another, made of lentils, is known as masur. It is quick and easy to make and in raw form has a beautiful, orange-pinkish color.

Ingredients marked with * are available at Indian grocery stores.

Makes 4 servings

1 cup masur dal (sometimes called red lentils)

4 cups water

1 small, sliced onion (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, divided

1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon ginger-and-garlic paste (mix equal parts fresh ginger and fresh garlic in a blender or food processor)*

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 diced tomatoes

3 slit green chilies

1 cup tamarind juice* (tamarind paste mixed with water or lemon juice work as substitutes; use 1 cup of either of these)

4 whole garlic cloves, sliced

3 dried red chilies

6 curry leaves*

1 tablespoon oil

Wash and drain dal. Boil dal in water with sliced onion, 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, turmeric, ginger-and-garlic paste until lentils are soft (usually less than 10 minutes).

Mash the mixture and add chili powder, salt, tomatoes, green chilies and tamarind (or lemon) juice. Boil until it is a thick soup (add water as necessary), about 1/2 hour.

Set the dal aside and let cool.

After it cools, blend the dal in the blender or food processor and pour into large saucepan.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil and brown the other 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds. Add sliced garlic, dried chilies and curry leaves. Brown and pour over dal, which you can serve with rice or bread.

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