Dinner Party

Chitra Agrawal's Coconut Dal with Turmeric Rice

August 20, 2019
Photo by Food52
Author Notes

This flavorful dal is an ode to the simple meals that chef and cookbook author Chitra Agrawal ate as a child at her grandmother's home in Southern India. In her version, the heat from the spices is tempered by the sweetness of the coconut cream and the tang of the tamarind paste, making it a great recipe even for young kids. —Food52

Watch This Recipe
Chitra Agrawal's Coconut Dal with Turmeric Rice
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • Coconut Dal
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, or sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch asafetida
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼ inch half discs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • Turmeric Rice
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
In This Recipe
  1. Coconut Dal
  2. Wash the lentils thoroughly, using a fine-mesh colander.
  3. Heat the ghee or oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When melted, add one cumin seed. When the seed sizzles, add the rest of the cumin seeds and asafetida.
  4. Fry the onions until they are golden brown and fragrant. Stir in the turmeric powder. Next add in the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  5. Next add in the tomato paste and a few tablespoons of water, mixing it in so it’s incorporated into the rest of the ingredients in the pan.
  6. Add in the coriander powder and paprika and give the pan a good stir. Fry for a few seconds.
  7. Add the carrots to the saucepan and sprinkle them with salt. Give them a good stir.
  8. Next add in the washed and drained lentils with the water. Bring to a boil. Stay by the stove and monitor the foaming, as your pot could quickly boil over if you are not watching. Skim off the foam. Turn the heat down to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer until cooked through, about 25 minutes.
  9. Add in the tamarind and boil for a few minutes. Next add in the coconut milk and heat through. Add salt to taste.
  10. Garnish with cilantro if desired. Serve with turmeric rice and a dollop of yoghurt.
  1. Turmeric Rice
  2. Wash the rice in several changes of water until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in water, generously covered, for at least 30 minutes. This is optional but results in softer, more evenly cooked rice. Drain thoroughly, using a fine-mesh sieve.
  3. Place the rice, water and turmeric in a medium saucepan. Place the saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cover the saucepan and turn the heat to the lowest setting on your stove.
  4. Cook until the rice is tender and there is no water left in the pan, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and leave covered for 10 minutes, to allow the grains to separate. Fluff with a fork before serving.

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