the taste space

Nepalese Toor Dal Curry

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on August 1, 2013

Nepalese Toor Dal Curry

In our minimalism, we have made it difficult to host big parties. Unless it is standing room only or BYOC (bring your own chair). For now, we’re maxed out at 4. You see, we only have 2 kitchen chairs. When we move our table next to the couch, we can fit another 2 people. It actually worked pretty well for curry and games last weekend.

We have a large curry repertoire, but decided to play it safe and serve our favourite: Dal Bhat. Like most curries, this one tastes even better as leftovers, giving us the perfect excuse to make a big batch in advance and keep leftovers for the rest of the week.

I still haven’t figured out what makes our Dal Bhat a Nepalese specialty. When our friend travelled to Nepal and hiked up to Everest base camp, she told us our dal was superior to anything she ate there.  Dal bhat translates into lentils and rice, and it could be spiced in any matter. Random vegetables are also added.

Before I left Toronto, I spotted this curry: a Nepalese curry with toor dal. I wanted to use up the last of my toor dal before the move and it looked perfect. I really enjoy the creaminess of toor dal and this curry had many of my favourite spices also found in our version of dal bhat, including cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and garlic. Is that what makes it Nepalese? No cumin or coriander, but this one includes tomatoes which I added to the tarka and cilantro as an (optional) garnish. How could this not taste good? Trust me, it was spot on delicious.

Have no toor dal? Red lentils or split peas would be good substitutes. Have toor dal and need more ideas? Here are other curries with toor dal:

Cumin-Scented Pigeon Peas with Mango from 660 Curries

Plantain, Cabbage and Coconut Curry with Split Pigeon Peas (Indian Cabbage and Plantain Kootu) from 660 Curries

Butternut Squash, Coconut and Lentil Stew (Aarti’s Indian Summer Stew)

Mixed Lentil Stew from Flatbreads & Flavors

Nepalese Toor Dal Curry

This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair hosted by Siri.

Nepalese Toor Dal Curry
Adapted from The Nepal Cookbook (via Girl Cooks World)

1 cup toor dal (can sub split peas or red lentils), rinsed and drained
4 cups water
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
2 cardamom pods, smashed
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup chopped tomato (I used cherry tomatoes)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. Wash toor dal well. Place in a large pot along with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, uncovered. Remove and discard any scum that forms. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes until the peas are tender.

2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add cumin and cook until fragrant, around 2 minutes. Reduce heat, add onions and saute until browned, stirring occasionally. Add the ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cardamom pods, and turmeric. Cook briefly, around 1 minute, until mixed through. Deglaze with tomatoes and allow to simmer for 2-5 minutes, until the tomatoes cook down slightly.

3. Stir the hot spiced mixture into the peas once they have softened. Allow to simmer an additional 5-10 minutes to allow the flavours to meld. You may need to add more water if it becomes too thick. Stir occasionally so the bottom does not burn. Add salt, to taste. Remove cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cardamom pods prior to serving.

4. Garnish with cilantro and serve warm, with a side of rice or naan.

Serves 4.

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18 Responses

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  1. Ellen Lederman said, on August 1, 2013 at 6:04 AM

    We make something almost identical and have always considered it Indian. I had the same reaction going to a Nepalese restaurant. With the exception of one soup and MoMo dumplings, I didn’t see a lot of difference between Nepalese and Indian (Nepalese seemed like toned-down Indian).

    Janet, I sent you an e-mail to your saveur address…..

  2. coconutandberries said, on August 1, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    This does look very tasty and curries do make the best leftovers. I’m not too familiar with Nepalese cuisine but actually ate out at a Nepalese place 2 nights ago! It was an amazing meal so I’ll definitely have to start investigating more…or digging around in your archives…:)

  3. Joanne said, on August 1, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    You really just can’t go wrong with these spices and flavors! And I feel you on the chair situation…we have two chairs and a couch and that is it. And no table. So…yeah.

  4. Kari @ bite-sized thoughts said, on August 2, 2013 at 2:59 AM

    We have a maximum of 8…and that’s squishy…so I understand :) Sometimes just 2 is the perfect number anyhow, and with curry like this, I’m not sure I’d want to share.

  5. Heather @Gluten-Free Cat said, on August 2, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    We will have a table and two chairs in NY, so I must remember to announce byoc when I invite friends! And they’d be so happy if I served this dish. Wow! Looks incredible.

    • janet @ the taste space said, on August 6, 2013 at 2:04 PM

      Lovely! The different, I bet, is that your apartment is so small that you probably ca’t fit anything else in it. Our place looks so empty, sadly. ;)

  6. kimmythevegan said, on August 2, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    Mmmm this sounds really good! Kind of comfort-food-ish =)

    • janet @ the taste space said, on August 6, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      Yes, comfort food at its finest. Two years ago I never would have thought that, but curries have really grown on me. :)

  7. Rachel Cotterill said, on August 3, 2013 at 5:09 AM

    I love all dahl, and this looks wonderful!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on August 6, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      Thanks Rachel. Dal has definitely become a comfort food for me. Do you have any favourite recipes? I am always up for trying something new.

  8. Gabby @ the veggie nook said, on August 4, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    My place actually has a surprising amount of seating considering it’s not big at all! We could probably seat 15, 16 if you count the random bean bag chair haha. I have no idea why we have so much seating considering we only ever have a few people over at most!

    I can say from personal experience your curries are amazing. I love when curries have tomatoes and fresh cilantro so I’d have to agree- how could this not be good??

    • janet @ the taste space said, on August 6, 2013 at 1:56 PM

      You are too sweet, Gabby. Come visit us and we’ll make you more curry!! And I promise to save you a seat. :)

  9. Sarojini said, on August 4, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    Thanks for sharing this- will make a great change form our usual range of dals at home :)

  10. Nell W. Bentley said, on August 8, 2013 at 3:47 AM

    My grandmom says that when you keep the dal in a bowl for few minutes. Water should float on top and dal should settle at the bottom. If this happens than it is perfect consistency of Gujarati dal. So whenever you serve you need to stir first and then serve in individual bowl.

  11. […] (via Nepalese Toor Dal Curry | the taste space) […]

  12. […] months ago and begrudgingly started eating through the toor dal. Not that we don’t love it (WE LOVE TOOR DAL) but it just takes longer to cook and time is something we are lacking right […]


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