Celebrating Cultures, One Recipe at a Time Red Lentil Daal - a Recipe from Far Far Away

September 2019

Like many girls in India, Roopa Rakshit did not choose her husband. Instead, this important decision was made by her parents, and although many modern-day thinkers may think of the ritual as ancient and in need of change, it’s a tradition many Indians still value.

Parents and relatives put a lot of thought and consideration into finding a suitable partner for their son or daughter. They compare personalities, take note of their educations, and, of course, their family background. In the end, however, the final decision is left to the girl or boy. According to a public opinion poll, 74% of young Indians, between the ages of 18 to 35, prefer their parents help in choosing their life partners. This preference comes as no surprise when only 6% of arranged marriages end in divorce.

After a period of courtship, a wedding, and then a three-day celebration, Roopa, like many brides in India, left home to live with her husband and in-laws. The move was filled with trepidation. Leaving behind a place filled with childhood memories and many reminiscences of her carefree life, Roopa knew she would miss her family dearly, and did her best to prepare herself for this change.

One of the important items Roopa knew she needed to bring with her was a cookbook. She knew it couldn’t be one of those off-the-shelf “Best Cookbook for Beginners” but something special and something that would satisfy her own childlike cravings. So, in the midst of her big-fat-glitzy Indian wedding, she pestered her mother to share some of her recipes she grew up with, and took to writing them down. She knew she couldn’t deny herself the simple pleasures of her mother’s cooking and the treasured recipes passed down for generations, despite the feelings of homesickness they may provoke.

Today, many years later, this cookbook remains close to Roopa’s heart. Tucked between her Jamie Oliver, Sanjeev Kapoor, and Global recipe collections, is her “go to” book for her traditional recipes from home. Its faded cover and somewhat tattered pages confirm its popularity in the kitchen, but the one section, “Daal”, appears to have been used more than the others.

This part of Roopa’s cook book/diary includes hand-written recipes of a variety of lentil soups or daal. A daal can be legumes, pulses, lentils, or beans. Interestingly, they can also be referred as a dish. A staple Indian meal isn’t complete without a daal. Indian cuisine enjoys a wide variety of daals: Red lentil or masoor daal, split pigeon peas, moong beans, urad daal, chick peas, split chick peas, black-eyed peas, small yellow lentils, and kidney beans – you name it and there’s a recipe for it. Daals also come as whole, split, with or without skin. The dishes are prepared with or without vegetables or meat. Roopa’s country has a special place in global cuisine based on the wide selections of daals they consume and also for endless variations of daal recipes that vary from region to region, and state to state, each with a distinct and unique blend of masalas or spices, herbs, and traditional cooking methods.

Just like the Canadian weather, Daal recipes can also be an interesting conversation starter with an assortment of different topics – from healthy diet plan, to mother’s cooking, to sharing daal recipes, cooking techniques, lentil global trading and marketing, international suppliers and buyers, and lentil wholesale and retail prices.

Roopa is delighted to share one of her favourite daal recipes, the red lentil or masoor daal – a comfort food that she yearns for whenever she returns home to Indian. The red lentil is very versatile and is also very healthy. The recipe is as follows:

Red Lentil or Masoor

  1. 1 cup red lentil daal
  2. One medium size onion
  3. One medium size tomato
  4. 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  5. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  6. 1 or 2 bay leaf
  7. 1 teaspoon turmeric –
  8. Chilli flakes/black pepper to taste
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Coriander leaves for garnishing
  11. 1 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter


    1. Boil the red lentil daal.
    2. Finely cut the onion and tomato.
    3. In a deep pan, add ghee. 
    4. When the ghee is hot, add the cumin seeds and the bay leaf
    5. Add the grated ginger and onions. 
    6. When the onion is translucent, add the finely chopped tomatoes. 
    7. Add the turmeric and chili flakes. 
    8. Cook the masala for about 5-10 minutes. 
    9. Add the boiled daal and cook for another 10 minutes in low flame.  
    10. Serve hot as a soup with fresh chopped coriander leaves or as a side dish with basmati rice. 

    We love to hear from you! If you have a special recipe that you’d like to share with The Round Table, please contact Donna at info@donnawhitebooks.com

Donna White is an accomplished author and Jubilee Medal winner for her volunteer work with World Vision. Visit her website at www.DonnaWhiteBooks.com

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