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Curried Red Onion Jam with Simple Dal

(recipe, Cheryl Sternman Rule)

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A dal is an Indian pulse porridge, often made with lentils. This version starts out quite humble. Then a dollop of glistening red-onion jam adds a lusty note right at the end. Save any leftover jam for sandwiches.


  1. 2 Tbsp. butter
  2. 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  3. 3 medium red onions, diced
  4. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  5. ⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
  6. 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  7. ¼ cup cider vinegar
  8. 2 cups red lentils, picked through and rinsed
  9. 2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  10. ½ to 1 whole small red chile pepper, seeded (if desired) and minced, or to taste
  11. 2 star anise pods


  1. Set the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the brown sugar, curry powder, and vinegar. Let bubble for a few seconds, then reduce the heat to low. Cook until thick and jammy, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, set the lentils, ginger, chile, star anise, and 6¾ cups (1.5 liters) cold water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook 30 to 40 minutes, uncovered, until thick, loose, and porridge like, stirring occasionally and addicting 1½ teaspoons salt and ¾ teaspoon pepper halfway through. (Dal will thicken a bit upon standing.) Adjust the seasonings one final time, to taste, and discard the star anise.
  4. Divide the dal among serving bowls. Spoon a generous scoop of red onion jam (re-warm if necessary) on top. (Refrigerate any leftover jam.)


Tip: For a more filling meal, spoon this dal over brown rice.