This masoor dal is so easy to make. Simply, throw some lentils, water and spices in the slow cooker, put on the lid and forget about it for several hours. There is no chopping vegetables or sauteeing onions. No fuss!
When you’re ready to eat, pour over the fragrant “vaghaar” by heating some ghee or oil and adding in the whole spices and a bit of chili.
The slow cooker is a great tool if you want to experiment with making dals. I do this often because it is so easy to throw some lentils, liquid and spices in the pot in the morning and leave it for the day. When I get home, the house is filled with the aromatics of a warm, comforting meal.
You can experiment with the type of liquid used. Coconut milk, chicken or vegetable broth, or a little tomato paste added to the water would all make an excellent base. It’s also really fun to play around with the spices and quantities in this recipe, I really encourage you to experiment here.
It might sound a bit weird to some people, but cinnamon is a great spice to add to Indian savories, but the trick is to not add too much. The first time I made this, I used a whole cinnamon stick and after 6 hours in the pot, that turned out to be way too much.
I now prefer to use just half a stick of cinnamon, or at least a really small one. Also, I tend to go easy on the black pepper, using only 3-4 peppercorns.
We have a Punjabi take-out restaurant down the street that makes a nice Masoor Dal and if I were trying to make it like theirs I would use at least one teaspoon of peppercorns, and double up the ginger.
Slow Cooker Masoor Dal
For the dal:
- 1 cup whole Masoor Dal often sold as Brown Lentils at the grocery store
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp garam masala
- ½ stick cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
For the vaghaar/tadka/tempering*:
- 1 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
- 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
- ½ tsp brown mustard seeds
- few slices of a fresh red or a whole dried red chili
- Put all of the ingredients for the dal except the salt in the slow cooker.
- Cook for 6-8 hours on low.
- Stir in salt.
- Add a “vaghaar” on the top: heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil on a pan until it shimmers, add a teaspoon of whole cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seed, a few slices of red or green chilies and toast until lightly fragrant (about 10 seconds). Pour the flavored oil and spices over the dal and serve!
Make it a little richer by adding a small pad of butter or a dash of cream at the finish.