Looking to expand your child’s palate? Well, kudos to you, we understand this is not always an easy task. Masoor Dal is a dish that has a wonderful balance of both new and familiar flavors. This lentil curry is both nutritious and a culinary adventure for young ones and does not require a special trip to an ethnic food market.
The hardest ingredient to find is red lentils, they are not at every grocery store, so when you find them, get them! Red lentils or Masoor Dal (in Hindi) is the ingredient that gives this dish its namesake. Otherwise, you will be able to get fresh ginger, onion, garlic, and tomato at any grocery store. Be sure to check your spice cabinet for cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika and chili powder, if you have some version of these, you are all set.
In my experience as an elementary educator of food, I have found children are not always enthusiastic about eating tomatoes, onions or beans. Though I am happy to report that this recipe transforms the challenging ingredients into one unified curry flavor. Take no substitution requests; it’s perfect.
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Serves: 4-6 people
Yields: 7 cups curry with 5 cups cooked rice
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
For the dal:
2 Tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
1 large yellow onion
4 garlic cloves (smashed, peeled, chopped)
2 Tablespoons peeled and chopped ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/4 cups red lentils soaked in 4 cups water, soak for 10 minutes at least
1/2 bunch washed cilantro for garnish, chop stems and leaves together very thin
Salt to taste
1. Cut aromatics: onions, garlic, and ginger into very small pieces, or pulse in a food processor until small.
2. Heat oil in a medium-sized pot, on high heat, and add aromatics. Sauté for 5 minutes or until slightly caramelized and soft.
3. Chop tomatoes into small dice, add to aromatics and cook until mostly dry, 5 minutes.
4. Add spices and stir vigorously for 1 minute to wake up their flavor, have water ready, so they do not burn.
5. Add water and lentils, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high. Then cook for 35 minutes or until the lentils are very soft.
6. Make sure to stir often so the dal does not burn on the bottom. To cook the lentils properly, keep the mix somewhat soupy. Simmer until the lentils are completely cooked and fall apart.
7. Add salt to taste. Thinly chop cilantro, and stems, and sprinkle over.
For the rice:
2 cups jasmine rice
4 cups water
Pot with a tight-fitting lid
1. Add water and rice to a pot, heat on high, and bring water to a boil.
2. Once boiling, stir once so the rice does not stick to the bottom.
3. Cover with lid.
4. Reduce heat to low.
5. Simmer for 15 minutes.
6. Take off the lid and check to see if the rice is cooked, if yes fluff with a fork and serve, in no, cover and continue to cook on low for 2 more minutes. Then fluff.
For a more comprehensive look at rice, check out this article.
Full disclosure: I am not a vegan, but this recipe is! I make dal at home at least once a month. Indulging in healthy foods is a great way to enjoy a large amount of food guilt-free. If this is something you are into, celebrity vegan Chef Dustin Harder returns to The Chopping Block in January 2023 for a hands-on vegan class featuring recipes from his newest cookbook Epic Vegan.
If you are looking for even more young person food inspiration, or you think your teens might benefit from a cooking class look no further, we have just released a 4-day Teen Camp during the holidays!