(dahl and broccoli sit with book and tea -- uncooked lentils and Konkani -- I think it's Konkani-- newspaper -- toor dhal starts at such a beautiful salmon-orange color, and unlike other pulses, cook very quickly and require no pre-soaking)

(I like dhal garnished with TONS of lime juice and a touch of salt -- the perfect evening meal -- very restorative and healthy)

My aunt greets me with "hiya dollface" every time I see her in Brooklyn, she also pinches my cheeks, makes me laugh and has a thousand flavors of salad dressing in her fridge. I couldn't help but utter this salutation to my dinner, as it bubbled away on the stove.

One of my favorite meals is a great dahl and a fresh vegetable. Luckily for us, we found broccoli at our last market visit. It was hiding in a corner at a wholesale stand. I made a bee-line for the green treasure, because I have missed my beloved trees so badly! In India, cauliflower, or "gobi" as they say, is much more common
. I'm not sure why they lean so heavily on the white veg, but they do... With the broccoli at my side, I felt I was re-united with a dear old friend. Hey, it's the simple pleasures, right? Absence really does make the heart grow fonder!

When we first stayed in Panjim, I inquired about cooking courses to our homestay owner, and she insisted I come into her kitchen and help HER make lunch. I have to admit, this was my intention all along, and I'm so thankful --the hour or so of cooking with Gloria was so tasty and informative. She was taken aback that we were "veg," insisting on the beauty of the Goan Fish Curry -- but as I shrugged my shoulders, she carried on with lentils, lady fingers and good bread. We ate in our AC room and could not stop saying "this is the BEST dhal!" and "I love this!" and "Dhal-FACE!!" I've made this at least once per week now that we've had an apartment and it is so easy. The dish comes together in under 20 minutes and is vibrant and hearty-- a fantastic, QUICK week-night meal when served with some bread and a salad.

South Indian Dhal
(serves 4)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 small red onions or one large one, rough chop
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
a few dashes of pepper
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 nub ginger, minced
1 1/2 c toor dhal (orange kind)
1 1/2 c water
1 1/2 c coconut milk
juice from 1 lime

for garnish:
lime, cilantro, toasted cashews and/or red peppers

heat oil on medium heat, add spices and onion, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another one or two minutes. Add lentils and liquids, crank up the heat to medium-high and stir continuously, until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Serve hot with a crusty roll, rice, broccoli or salad (I have been dreaming of salads . . . sigh). I recommend extra lime wedges for squeezing on top, as well as extra salt and pepper.


  1. I am always looking for good veg recipes for the teenage veg in the family....this looks fabulous
    Dahl-ing! thanks

  2. i have a love hate relationship with Dal. sounds boring but i only like dal (black and channa) the way my mom makes it.
    my huz love dal makhani. i have to try your recipe sometime.
    REALLY like the new banner!!

  3. Hi Leela,
    We haven't met, I don't think, but I'm the wife of Toby Keller and I've heard lots about you and Dave! Toby passed your blog on to me and I just wanted to say how awesome it is. The food looks divine and the photography is gorgeous. I'm having a lot of fun looking through here and getting recipe ideas. Anyway, I just wanted to say hello! I hope you're enjoying India, and I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog.


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