Tamarind Broth with Puréed Toor Dal and Spices

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Tamarind Broth with Toor Dal

A heat wave has once again enveloped Ontario, and that means lighter meals are in order. I've been serving a lot of salads lately, and wanted something fairly light, but different. A craving for Indian creations got me searching for some new ideas.

The first book I flipped through was Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries, and all of the other books simply sat on the shelf as I knew what I was going to make pretty much right away. Certainly one of the most cherished cookbooks on my shelf and one that I always recommend to friends and family wanting to know more about Indian cooking. Mr. Iyer provides a treasure trove of recipes that always work out perfectly and are easy to adapt to the cook's preferences. Each time I flip through the book, I find more and more ideas to try. The book is not vegetarian, but with 660 recipes, vegetarians will never run out of ideas.

This time I went with an easy sweet and hot tamarind broth cooked with earthy toor dal and spices. This broth makes its presence known with the complexity it imparts to the palate. Thinner than the English version of mulligatawny soups so often found in Indian restaurants in this part of the world — thickened with the addition of vegetables and sometimes meat — this is a classic "pepper and water" soup much closer to traditional south Indian creations that consist mainly of just water, pepper and spices. I added a tomato to the broth for extra tanginess and depth, a small shallot for a bit of sweetness and texture, and hot chilies for some added heat. It's a soothing and comforting soup that, served over fresh cooked white rice or Indian flat breads, makes for one trouble-free summer meal.

Note: Tamarind has a unique taste profile, as it is tart, sweet and sour with robust flavor. You don't need much for the tamarind flavor to come through. If you can't find or don't have tamarind, you can use lime juice sweetened with a bit of coconut sugar. The dish will not be quite as rich in flavor, but good nonetheless.

Tamarind Broth with Puréed Toor Dal and SpicesTamarind Broth with Puréed Toor Dal and Spices
Recipe by
Adapted from 660 Curries
Cuisine: South Indian
Published on July 7, 2016

Simple, hot, sour and comforting mulligatawny-style soup with earthy toor dal, tomato and spices

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  • 1/3 cup dried split toor dal (pigeon peas)
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind pulp
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sambar powder
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 red or green chilies, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • small handful of dried curry leaves, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • plenty of fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Thoroughly rinse the toor dal and transfer to a medium saucepan. Cover with 1 1/4 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the dal is tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. Purée the cooked dal in a blender or use an immersion blender. Set aside until ready to use.

  • Meanwhile, soak the tamarind pulp in 1 cup of hot water for 40 minutes. Drain the pulp over a bowl using a strainer. Push through as much pulp as you can, discarding any seeds and coarse pulp.

  • Pour 3 cups of water into a large saucepan and stir in the tamarind water, cilantro, tomato, sambar powder, shallot, chillies, asafetida, turmeric, salt and curry leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

  • Heat the ghee or oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. When hot, toss in the mustard seeds, and cook until they turn grey and begin to splutter and pop. Add to the broth, stir, and then stir in the cooked toor dal and black pepper.

  • Serve hot with fresh cooked whie rice or Indian flat breads with papadums on the side.

Makes 4 to 5 servings

This is my contribution to My Legume Love Affair, a monthly event featuring the mighty legume. Started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook and now administered by me, and kindly hosted this month by Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds.

Tamarind Broth with Pureed Dal and Spices

Other dishes featuring tamarind you are sure to enjoy:
Tamarind Potatoes with Spices (Imli Aloo)
Indian-Style Potato and Pea Salad with Tamarind and Chat Masala
Chickpeas in a Creamy Coconut Tamarind Gravy
Tamarind and Coconut Pulao Rice


Kalyani said...

its raining heavily here right now, and I wouldnt mind that broth / rasam (as we call this) to sip on ! great pick, Lisa :)

Shaheen said...

It warm here in Wales, not raining - but I so want a bowl of this - I love tamarind and could easily just drink it

Lisa Turner said...

Oh yes, it is good even without rice. I really enjoyed sips from the bowl, and it is easy to make too.