A deeply comforting dal cooked in a rich tomato sauce with warming spices. The combination of the dried limes and Persian mixed spice creates an incredible savoury dish. A great vegetarian dish to eat with rice and or flatbread.
I discovered a love for dal over the last ten years. My husband introduced me to the world of dal during one of our early dates. He is a big fan of Indian cuisine and always orders a dal dish to accompany his meal. I was reluctant at first but, after a spoonful, I fell in love with the creamy texture and the aromatics of the dish. I wanted to make a dal dish with a Persian twist so I started experimenting!
Ingredients in this Dish
This dish is made with yellow split peas (Channa Dal) using the holy trinity of Persian cooking – onion, turmeric and saffron. I also added other familiar flavours from our cuisine during the recipe development including limoo amani (dried lime), advieh (Persian mixed spice) and nigella seeds. The resulting dish is deliciously savoury, packing an umami punch and satisfying even the die-hard carnivore.
Limoo amani can be bought online or from most Middle-Eastern food shops. It adds a musky and citrusy flavour to the dish. Be careful when piercing a hole into the dried lime as you do not want the seeds to fall out while it is cooking as it can make the dish bitter – just a gentle shallow poke into the lime with the end of a sharp knife.
Advieh can also be bought from most Middle-Eastern food shops – I buy mine online from Freshly Spiced on Etsy. The combination fo spices are nutmeg, rose petals, cardamom, cumin, black pepper, goriander, and cinnamon.
I like a little heat in my food so I add red chilli to my dal, but feel free to leave it out.
How to Serve This Dish
Serve it with roti or naan, rice if you want a hearty meal with fresh herbs, torshi or a yoghurt dip on the side such as Maast o’Moosir (yoghurt and Persian shallot dip) or Maast O’Khiar (Persian yoghurt and cucumber dip).
This dal dish will last in the frisge up to 5 says if kept in an airtight container. Always cool dishes completely before refridgerating.
Persian-Style Dal with Persian Mixed Spice & Dried Limes
For the dal
- 250 g chana dal (split yellow lentils) (rinsed with water until it runs clear and left in a bowl of water to soak overnight)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 whole red chilli (finely chopped - please feel free leave out / reduce amount or deseed if you would prefer it less spicy)
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 900 mls vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 to 2 limoo amani (dried lime)
- 200 g fresh tomatoes (chopped)
- 1/8 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 2 tbsp of water)
- Juice from half a fresh lime
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
For the temper and garnish
- 2 tbsp ghee (non dairy alternative, if vegan)
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp advieh (Persian mixed spice)
- 1 tsp nigella seeds (to garnish)
- Blend onion and garlic into a paste in a food processor or equivalent.
- Take a large saucepan and add 2 tbsp oil and place on medium-high heat. Add chilli and coriander seeds. Toast lightly for 30 seconds to release flavours. Be careful not to burn otherwise it will be bitter. Add onion and garlic paste to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add turmeric and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Drain channa dal and rinse. Then add to the pan with stock, chopped tomatoes, bay leaf and bloomed saffron.
- Pierce imoo amani 3 to 4 times around the lime gently with the tip of a sharp knife and add to the pan - only a shallow piercing is required. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down, add a lid and let it simmer for 45 minutes.
- When the channa dal has cooked, remove from heat and remove the bay leaf and limoo amani. Stir to break down. Squeeze some fresh lime juice and season to taste. Leave the mixture to thicken.
- To make the temper, place a small frying pan on high heat. Add ghee and fry mustard seeds for 30 seconds. Turn heat off, add advieh and mix and then pour into the dal mixture and stir. Sprinkle nigella seeds to garnish.
- Serve with chapatis or roti and/or rice with yoghurt or torshi.