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3 Indian lentil daal soups to add to your comfort food rotation

Nidhi blogs at PepperGarlicKitchen where she shares rich and vibrant Indian food and recipes. She loves to cook, eat and share

The holidays are over and so is the holiday binging. Let's admit it; after hogging on cakes, cookies and wine, this is the time when we all start looking around for healthy, light and guilt-free meal ideas. I suggest you try Indian.

When you think of Indian food, I am sure, spicy, creamy and heavy curry is the first thing you think of. It is true to some extent but when I see in the restaurants saffron chicken tikka with dollops of cream and artificial colors or the naan immersed in butter, I want to shout out loud and tell everyone that this is not what we cook and eat everyday at our home.

On a daily basis, we eat light, fresh and healthy stuff; but yes, we love our spices and can't go without them. As most of India is vegetarian, we eat a lot of lentils and legumes as an alternate protein source and we use them in a lot of different ways.

These three soups that I have got here are very popular and are part of our everyday diet. These are perfect for a cold day; just wrap yourself in a cozy blanket, get your favorite channel on TV and relax with a bowl of this perfect soup. These soups go so well with Basmati rice or Indian bread; they make a perfect meal.

1. Yellow lentil daal soup

Golden yellow lentil (arhar daal as called in Hindi) soup with fragrant basmati rice and a dash of ghee (clarified butter) is my favorite comfort food In Indian cuisine. It tastes like home, every single time I make it. You can make your own version by adding your choice of vegetables.

Yellow lentil daal soup recipe

Serves: 3-4

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes | Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup yellow lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch ginger, grated
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 tablespoon watermelon seeds
  • Coriander to garnish
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Add lentils, water, salt, turmeric powder and red chili powder in a pan and let it cook for around 30 to 35 minutes. Make sure lentils are cooked perfectly.
  2. When soup is ready, take it off the flame. In a separate frying pan, heat ghee and add cumin seeds. When seeds start to crackle add minced garlic.
  3. When garlic is golden brown, add grated ginger and chopped onions. Add tomatoes when onions start to change colour. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes or till tomatoes are soft and cooked.
  4. Add this mixture into the soup and let it simmer for 3-4 more minutes.
  5. Garnish with coriander and roasted watermelon seeds while serving.

2. Whole red lentil soup

Whole red lentils (khadi masoor in Hindi) are full of protein, fiber and vitamins. As these are whole lentils, they take a little longer to cook but are totally worth it. Whole red lentils and browned onions make one killer soup... so so good!

Serves: 3-4

Prep time: 10 minutes | Inactive time: 8 hours | Cook time: 1 hour | Total time: 9 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup black lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Add lentils and salt in a pan and let it cook over medium heat. It will take around an hour to cook these lentils.
  2. After lentils are ready, take it off the flame. In a separate frying pan, heat ghee and cumin seeds and wait till seeds start to crackle.
  3. Add minced garlic cloves and chopped onions. Let it cook till onions are golden brown. Transfer this mixture into the soup.
  4. Let the soup simmer for 5-6 minutes over low heat; add garam masala powder at this point. The soup is ready; serve hot.

3. Red lentil soup

Red Lentil (masoor in Hindi) soup is totally Indian. Creamier than the other two, this is spicy, fragrant and creamy. Coconut milk makes it so creamy that the soup feels like it's melting in your mouth and so many different flavors exploding alongside make it a total delight.

Serves: 3-4

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes | Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • Coriander to garnish
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Add lentils, turmeric powder, red chili powder, salt and water in a pan and let it cook over medium heat. It will take around 20 to 30 minutes for lentils to cook.
  2. After lentils are ready, take it off the flame. In a separate frying pan, heat ghee and cumin seeds and wait till seeds start to crackle.
  3. Add minced garlic cloves and let it cook till it is golden brown. Transfer this mixture into the soup.
  4. Put the soup on a low flame again and add coconut milk. Let it simmer for 3-4 minutes over low heat.
  5. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with Indian bread or rice.
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