I woke up with a sore throat today, and I haven’t felt like eating very much. When I’m sick the only thing I want to eat is soup. Chicken soup is great, but when I want something heavier I make Dhal soup. Dhal (or Dal) is a traditional Indian dish that is made by simmering lentils with spices, and it is often served over Basmati rice. This dish is popular with vegetarians because the combination of lentils (a legume) and rice (a grain) creates a source of complete protein.
I like to drink Dhal from a mug (my own version of cup-of-soup), and I’ve been drinking it that way since I was old enough to hold a cup. My theory is that by drinking it in a mug, I can bring all that wonderful soup closer to my nose and inhale the delicious steam that rises off the top.
There is no single way to make dhal as the recipes vary from region to region. Some people add curry powder, mustard seeds and carrots, and others add butter, saffron and pimento. In my family, we turn this dish into a hearty soup by adding chewy flour dumplings. I use grape seed oil instead of butter (to cut down on the fat), add I finish the dish with a fragrant cumin oil.
Cumin, also known as Geera, is a key ingredient in this dish. It adds a warm earthy flavour that can’t be replicated by any other spice. It’s also great in chilli and stews, so if you don’t have any at home be sure to grab some from the grocery soon.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp ground roasted cumin
- 1.4 tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tbsp grape seed oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 small red thai chilli or piece of habanero pepper, finely chopped
- 2 cups yellow split peas, washed
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 8 cups of water + 2 cups reserved
- 1 tsp grape seed oil
- 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
- Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Add enough water to create a soft dough, adding ¼ cup at a time. You do not need to knead the dough, just pull it together with your hands.
- Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Add the grape seed oil to a large pot and place over medium-high heat.
- When the oil is hot, add the onion and shallot and cook for 2-4 minutes until they soften and brown.
- Add garlic and chilli, keep stirring and cook 1 minute more.
- Add the lentils, turmeric, salt and stir to combine.
- Add water, and cover the pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 30-35 minutes until soft.
- Remove the soup from heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
- Return the pot to medium-low heat and add the remaining two cups of water.
- Stir until well incorporated.
- Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into the soup. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the dumplings float. Adjust seasoning to taste, if needed.
- Heat the oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and keep a close eye on them. When they become dark brown and fragrant, remove the mixture from the heat and pour over the soup.
This thick comforting soup is inexpensive to make, and is full of good-for-you ingredients too. I ate this frequently while I was on my elimination diet. If you’re looking for a dish that is full of flavour and will fill you up, try making this soup. And let me know how it goes!