In southern India, dal is soupy and served over rice; in northern India, dal is a thicker consistency for scooping up with roti, the traditional Indian wheat flatbread. You can vary the amount of water in this recipe in accordance with whether you want a proper soup or a more stewlike consistency.
2 tablespoons ghee or oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, slivered
1 cup dried yellow lentils
4 cups water
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can (15-ounce) coconut milk
4 ounces fresh spinach
1 serrano chile, seeded and finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted
1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onion for about 10 minutes, or until lightly brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer.
2. Rinse the lentils thoroughly and place them in a 7-quart slow cooker along with the onion and garlic mixture and the water.
3. Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind the cumin and coriander seeds to a powder, then add them along with the turmeric, cardamom, and cinnamon to the lentils. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours, until the lentils are quite tender.
4. Stir in the coconut milk and spinach, and add the salt to taste. Cook for 20 minutes longer, or until the soup is once again hot and all the spinach is wilted.
5. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top each with a bit of chopped chile, a sprinkle of cilantro, and some coconut.
Note: This recipe was developed for a 7-quart slow cooker. If your cooker is smaller, it may take a bit longer than the time given in the recipe for the soup to cook.
Reprinted from 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley (Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2011). Copyright © 2011 by Lynn Alley. Photographs copyright 2011 by Ben Pieper. Used with permission of the publisher.
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