Monday, February 13, 2012

Spicy Crock Pot Dal Masala

It's time for another Secret Recipe Club recipe. This month I had Savvy Eats, which was a lot of fun. There were tons of great recipes--many of them healthy. And Julie also does this fun thing where she makes a big pot/pan of something at the beginning of the week and then shows you how you can use it as the base for different meals throughout the week. And you guys know I have a thing for a good leftover.

I also have a thing for dal, which I discovered last year during our Cheap Eat Challenge. Consequently, I chose to make this Indian lentil dish (though the orange bread with dark chocolate hasn't stopped calling to me either).

I tasted it before adding the butter and milk. It was s-p-i-c-y. Not that there's anything wrong with that... although I must admit that me and mine were happy to eat the more fattening, slightly less spicy finished product. Of course, by me and mine, I mean me and Kip. The kids took one look at this dal (and, yes, I've failed as a mother and my kids are hopelessly picky; it's a struggle), which isn't--admittedly--quite a beauty queen, and just ate the naan. You know what, sometimes things are so good I don't even care. Let them turn up their spoiled little noses because that means more leftovers for me. Ha. However, I must note that Julie's dal is beautiful. She used black lentils, which I could not for the life of me find in Evansville. I'm not sure if that's the reason or what, but hers was golden with colors mixed in while mine was brown.

Spicy Crock Pot Dal Masala
Serves 6-8
adapted from savvyeats
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4-5 hours on low, 8-10 hours on high (You could probably do it stove top in 45-60 minutes, but I haven't tried.)
Cost: $1.80
onion: .25, ginger: .05, garlic: .10, lentils: .30, beans: .10, tomato sauce: .35, butter: .30, milk: .20, other stuff: .15)

1 Tbsp canola coil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic (this cooks a long time, so it doesn't come out overtly garlic-y, in case you were worried)
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled (about 2 Tbsp minced or about 2 tsp dry if you're in a pinch)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp chili powder (I used about half that; we're wimps)
6 1/4 C water
2 C black lentils (or another type lentils if you can't find black. I just used the regular greenish brown ones you can find anywhere)
1/2 C dried kidney beans (I used kidney, but I bet most varieties would work fine)
1 C tomato sauce
2 Tbsp garam masala (check your Asian market if you want it cheap or can't find it at a regular store)
2 tsp paprika
8 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 C milk
1/2 C cream

Heat a little oil in a pan and throw your onions in. Julie caramelized them, but I was in a hurry so I just let them get tender and a bit brown. I bet if you were in a super hurry, you could just throw your onions in the pot and call it good.

Puree the garlic, ginger, cumin, corainder, chili powder and 1/4 C water to create a paste. [I also threw the onions in here with a little more water. Kip doesn't like the texture of onions, so ours got pulverized.]

Stir in lentils, beans, and oil in the bowl of the crockpot (set to high) and coat it all in oil. Add spice paste, onions, tomato sauce, garam masala, and paprika. Top with remaining water and stir it.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours. (Or on high for 4-5 hours, which is what I did.)

Thirty minutes before serving, stir in butter and milk.

Serve with a splash of cream and some cilantro leaves if you've got them and if they're your thing (they're totally my thing).



  1. It's amazing how economical, tasty and healty lentil and bean dishes can be. This Dal looks fabulous.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. It is. I've really fallen in love with dals this past year.

  2. I dal and I love my slow cooker. Unfortunately my husband is not as keen but I'll be on maternity leave soon so I can start making all the things he doesn't like then and eating them for lunch!

    1. My husband was sure he wouldn't like it, but he did. I'm not saying it was his favorite meal ever, but it went down just fine.

  3. This looks great. I've got to try it. I've only ever made dal from mung beans before (and that was in a pressure cooker).

  4. I love lentils and beans! The flavors sound great!

  5. Spicy food in a crock pot is right up my alley. I've got this one bookmarked! I’m stopping by from SRC but I’d love if you check our my new site February is oranges month so if you have any orange recipes, we’d love if you’d link up!

  6. I am a huge fan of dal, and if it can be made in a crockpot even better!

  7. Thanks for the recipe. Love dal and looking for more excuses to use my crockpot. Though, I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed in this recipe. After coming at the end of the day and tasting the dal, there was absolutely no taste to it. I had to add a lot of salt, which wasn't the taste I was looking for, to even make it edible. I followed the recipe to the T, but would love any advice to have to improve it.

    1. Hi Sara,
      I admit that I haven't made this for quite a while, so I'm struggling to remember exactly how it tastes. I checked my notes and saw that mine was quite spicy before the milk/cream. Yours wasn't??? If not, I'm really not sure why unless the spices were very old or something, but still...The only suggestion I've got are that you add some curry powder or that you use nice fresh garam masala. Another thought: I used tomato sauce that probably had salt in it. Perhaps you used a tomato puree with not salt??? Otherwise, I really don't know how to help, although I'm sad that it didn't work out for you.



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