In India, we would have daal almost every day for lunch. Usually, the lunch would consist of daal, a side of seasonal saute vegetables, and some form of raita (yoghurt with spices or herbs or vegetables) in the summer months. Since moving to the UK, I have tried to simplify my life; I mean, who wants to do a whole lot of washing up every day? So, this one-pot daal recipe is ideal and combines two types of lentils and aubergine to create a tasty, quick meal.
I'm not the biggest fan of aubergine on its own; however, cooked with the right spices and combined with the daals, the aubergine transforms, and my taste buds approve! Consequently, this one-pot recipe is one of my go-to comfort foods.
For a busy lifestyle, one-pot recipes are ideal, requiring minimum equipment and time, but the result is nutritious and, of course, delicious! You might like my one-pot chickpea and hispi cabbage curry, for instance!
- Masoor Daal (red lentils)
- Arhar Daal (split pigeon pea daal)
- Red onion
- Green chilli
- Cinammon stick
- Cumin seeds
- Coriander seeds
- Olive oil
- Sea Salt flakes
For Tadka (Garnish)
- Olive oil
- Nigella seeds
- Cumin seeds
- Fresh curry leaf
- Green chilli
See the recipe card for quantities.
To begin, prepare your ingredients.
A couple of hours before you intend to cook, wash and soak the daal in separate bowls. Once soaked, drain and rinse the daals and set them aside.
Finely chop the red onion, garlic and ginger.
Roughly chop the tomatoes.
Dice the aubergine into one-inch cubes, leaving the skin on the aubergine.
Roughly chop the green chilli.
Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick and fry for thirty seconds.
Follow this with the finely chopped onion and fry until golden brown. Then add the finely chopped garlic and ginger and continue to fry for three to five minutes until soft and fragrant.
Now add the cumin and coriander seeds and continue to fry for two to three minutes. Follow this with the green chillies and aubergine cubes and cook for a further five minutes until the skin of the aubergine flesh changes colour.
At this point, add the turmeric powder and the chopped tomatoes and mix well. Cook until the tomatoes are soft - about five minutes.
Then add both the daals to the pot
Finally, add the water and salt and bring to a boil.
Turn down the heat and simmer for about twenty minutes until the lentils have cooked.
Once cooked, set aside and make the tadka to garnish the daal.
Tadka is spices cooked in hot oil to release their flavours. It is a quick process.
In a small pan, add the oil over medium/high heat. The oil needs to be quite hot to bloom the spices and release the flavours.
Add the thinly sliced garlic and fry for about one minute.
The garlic will turn a light golden brown. Add the cumin seeds, nigella seeds, green chilli and give the pan a shake. Immediately add the curry leaves and give the pan another shake. Be careful not to burn the spices and garlic; they will taste bitter. This whole process takes less than two minutes.
Add the tadka garnish to the top of the daal and serve.
Serving suggestions for the daal could include plain rice or paratha.
How To Video
Here is a video guide to making an aubergine daal one-pot recipe.
One-Pot Recipe: Aubergine Daal
- Digital scales
- 100 gms Masoor (red lentils) daal
- 100 gms Arhar (Split pigeon peas ) daal
- 250 gms Aubergine
- 150 gms Tomatoes
- 100 gms Red onion
- 15 gms Garlic
- 15 gms Ginger
- 1 Green chilli
- 1 stick Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoon Coriander seeds
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- 2 tablespoon Oil
- 350 ml Water
- 1 tablespoon Sea salt flakes
- 1 teaspoon Oil
- ½ teaspoon Cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon Nigella seeds
- 10 gms Garlic one clove thinly sliced
- 1 sprig Curry leaf
- 1 Green chilli optional
- Wash and soak both the daals in separate bowls for about two hours. Then rinse and drain the water.
- Finely chop the onions, garlic and ginger.
- Roughly dice the tomatoes.
- Cut the aubergine into one inch cubes. Leave the skin on the aubergine.
- Roughly dice the green chilli.
- Heat the oil in a large pot over a medium heat, Add the cinnamon stick and fry for thirty seconds.
- Add the onions and fry until golden brown. Then add the chopped ginger and garlic and continue to fry until the garlic and ginger are soft and fragrant (about 3-5 minutes)
- Add the cumin and coriander seeds and fry for about two minutes until fragrant.
- Add the green chilli and aubergine cubes and fry for about five minutes or until the colour of the aubergine flesh changes.
- Add the turmeric powder and chopped tomatoes and give it a good mix. Continue frying until the tomatoes are soft.
- Now add both types of lentils, the water and the salt. Cover and cook for twenty minutes, stirring from time to time.
- Once the lentils have cooked, set aside.
- Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Remove the curry leaves from the stem.
- Heat the oil in a small pan or pot over medium/high heat. Add the sliced garlic and fry for about 1 minute.
- Add the cumin seeds, nigella seeds, green chilli and curry leaves. Fry for 30 seconds or so. Remove from heat and add to the daal before serving.
- Serve with plain rice or a flatbread.
You can replace the masoor daal (red lentils) and the arhar daal (split pigeon peas) with any other daal you have at home. The yellow daals will taste the same; however, green, black, or other lentils will alter the taste. You will also need to soak the lentils for longer, possibly overnight, or else they will take longer to cook, and the aubergine may reduce too much, resulting in a paste-like texture.
If you are not a fan of aubergine, you can use marrow. You can even use courgettes. Roast the courgettes separately, either in the oven or pan-fry them. Add them at the end when the lentils have almost cooked.
If you don't have fresh curry leaves, I do not recommend using dried ones as they don't have the same flavour. You can omit it from the tadka and instead add chopped coriander at the very end.
Reheat thoroughly before using. You can add some water during reheating as daal usually thickens once cooled. This dal can be stored in the fridge for up to three days in an airtight container.
Freeze this daal for up to three months in an airtight container. Defrost in the fridge overnight and heat thoroughly before consuming.
When making the tadka, make sure you have all ingredients at hand as the process is swift, or else you might end up burning the garlic and spices. It would help evenly slice the garlic for the tadka, resulting in even cooking and colour.
Why wash and soak daals? Firstly, this helps remove unwanted residues, chemical or otherwise. Also, soaking daals make them more digestible, reduces bloating, and makes their nutrients easier to absorb. Red lentils or masoor dal doesn't take too long; just about two hours is enough. All other lentils like split pigeon peas, yellow split dal and moong beans take overnight soaking to help them cook faster.
In a professional kitchen, food hygiene and safety is a top priority, and from the very beginning of training, I practised good habits and routines. Of course, it is also very, very important to practice good food hygiene and safety at home. Here are some fundamental practices to adopt in the kitchen.
- Wash your hands regularly while preparing, handling and cooking food
- Wipe down counter tops and high contact points regularly
- If you cook meat and fish, do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat. Use separate chopping boards for meat and fish. Wash your chopping boards immediately after use.
- Thoroughly cook food to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods (more than 2 hours)
- Store food correctly
For more details on food hygiene and safety in the home, visit the UK Government's Food Standards Agency webpage.