I checked an Indian cookbook out of the library a few months ago hoping for some new dal ideas, but the recipes are way too rich. Their recipe for this dish calls for 1/2 cup butter (that's an entire stick), 1/2 cup cream, and 1 cup yogurt. I followed the "make it the way the recipe says the first time" rule, and I ended up making another cup of lentils to add to the sauce because it was way too rich. This time, I eighth'd the amount of butter and cream and quartered the amount of yogurt, and it worked a lot better. I made a few other modifications, like adding chard and ginger, and I think those modifications helped too. If you've never tried toor dal, also known as split pigeon peas, it's got a great flavor. I can't describe it very well, but it's a disctinctive nuttiness and richness. I'm really glad we got some back in September on our Indian grocery expedition.
We served this with broccoli we had cooked with mustard, cumin, and coconut. Next time, some rice or naan would be great to soak up the extra sauce, but I didn't think of it until the meal was almost ready.
1 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
3 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp butter, divided (1/2 tbsp and 1 tbsp)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tbsp cream
1/4 cup yogurt, plus more for serving
2 leaves Swiss chard, finely sliced
Place the toor dal, water, turmeric, chili powder, and garlic in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until dal texture is to your liking.
In the meantime, melt 1/2 tbsp butter in a small frying pan. Add cumin seeds and about 30 seconds later, add onion and ginger. Saute until onions are soft.
After dal is ready, turn off heat and stir in 1 tbsp butter, cream, and yogurt. Bring to a simmer and cook for another five minutes or so. Then add chard and stir to wilt. Serve with a dollop of yogurt on top.