I had posted this recipe on my blog as part a group posting for the 'Food Bloggers against Hunger' Campaign that was organized earlier this year. Its a simple Lentil dal creation, which can be morphed into 2 avatars, a hearty Stew to be scarfed down over the kitchen table or counter, or a silky smooth creation, elegantly dressed up to be served at a sit down DInner.
The versatility of this soup is that its flavor variants are limited only by the number of spice blends that are available in the market —Panfusine
1 cup Split red Masoor lentils
3-4 cups water
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 large onions, grated
1-2 cloves garlic minced finely
1 tablespoon minced ginger root
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 pinch turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon of Garam masala (or your choice of spice blend curry powder, Harissa,berbere
Rinse and drain the Lentils. Add the water along with the turmeric and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook until soft but not completely mushed up (~ 15 mins)
In a pot, heat the oil and add the cumin when the oil gets hot and begins to shimmer. Add the garlic, ginger and grated onion. On a medium heat, saute the until the onion just begins to caramelize.
Add the tomato paste along with the turmeric, salt and spice blend, adding a sprinkle of water to deglaze if the tomato sticks to the bottom of the pan, stir until the tomato paste loses its raw aroma. Add the cooked lentils and stir to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning, cover and allow to simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes till the flavors combine.
At this point, you decide if you want to serve this up as a stew with a piece of warm Pita bread or even over rice.
If you prefer a silky soup, then transfer to a blender and puree till smooth.
Strain the puree back into the pan it was cooked in and keep warm until ready to serve.
Transfer into a soup tureen or ladle into individual bowls, Garnish with chopped cilantro or dill and a dollop of sour cream or whisked yogurt.
Serve with wedges of lemon on the side.