Friday, August 20, 2010

Chunky Red Dal Soup, a.k.a. "Doll Soup with Waffles"

First, a sweet story... Every day, Maya asks me what I'm making for dinner. I think she is hoping I'll say one of three things: potatoes, rice, or chicken (or all three). Yesterday, I told her I was making "Red Dal Soup," which she, of course, heard as, "Red DOLL Soup." She was very excited about eating doll soup, and we talked about it the whole way home from our trip to see friends, an hour away.

Anyway, this Chunky Red Dal Soup is a very easy, healthy, and versatile recipe. For those who don't know, dal refers to the thick stew prepared from "pulses," such as lentils, peas, or beans. It is regularly eaten with rice and vegetables in Southern India, and with both rice and roti (wheat-based flat bread) throughout Northern India & Pakistan. Dal is a ready source of proteins for a balanced diet containing little or no meat. I have countless different dal recipes, but I chose this one, because I had almost all the ingredients on hand.

I made brown basmati rice with this dish, because the soup sounded very spicy and smoky. It called for quite a bit of Spanish smoked paprika, Harissa, tomatoes, and cumin. Sounds like a recipe for heartburn, right? Actually, it wasn't really spicy at all! Instead, it had a nice tangy flavor, from the lemon, coupled with a mellow smokiness. It really tasted... Lovely. Yes, that's a good word for it. It had all these flavors that blended in a way that made you think, "Hmmmm, what is that?" I thought my family would only like this dish over rice, because it might not be filling enough. The problem is, basmati rice is very flavorful, so it almost overpowered the soup. I think this soup would be best served in its own bowl, with pita triangles or chips on the side.

By the way - Maya loved this "Doll Soup," and ate a ton of it. She even ate whole wheat pita with it - or, as she calls it, "Doll Soup with Waffles."

Harissa is a Tunisian hot chilli sauce commonly eaten in North Africa, whose main ingredients are piri piri hot chili peppers, serrano peppers,or other hot chillis and olive oil. When I bought this paste, at the Co-op, the cashier told me to be careful - it would be too hot to handle. Hmmmm. Apparently, he was either wrong, or I'm not very sensitive to hot pepps...

Doll Soup with Waffles (Red Dal on a pita!)

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