Daal refers to an entire category of legumes which includes many sizes and colors of lentils and split peas. Tiny yellow lentils, which are different from split peas, are the most common variety used for Afghan daal. Don’t fret, you can substitute any kind of lentil from your cupboard—green, red or even split peas—for this recipe. Regardless of the variety, all these legumes are incredibly cheap, easy to prepare, around 15 - 20 minutes, and packed with nutrients.
Afghan daal is a little thicker and less soupy than Indian daal. It's typically served with nan/bread or Afghan challaw (white rice). I like mine with a dollop of garlicky yogurt.
Here is a recipe for daal made with plenty of onions and garlic, fresh ginger, a touch of cumin and cayenne pepper. I've also added a teaspoon of turmeric which brightens up the color and adds the wholesome goodness of the spice. You can make a large batch and take the left overs for lunch the next day.
Afghan Daal with Ginger and Cumin
2 tsp. olive oil
1 finely chopped medium onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 tbsp. finely minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne
1 cup yellow lentils
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. kosher salt
Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a medium sauce pan. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and saute for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the turmeric, cumin, cayenne, lentils and broth, stir and turn the heat up to high. When the liquid boils, turn the heat down to a simmer, cover and cook until the lentils are very tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and salt. Serve with a spoonful of plain yogurt and warm pita or nan bread.
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