This month, we’re asking food bloggers to share one-dish meals, like skillet lasagna. Today, Leela of Tea Cup Tea is sharing a vegetarian Indian stew that you can whip up in 20 minutes with creamy coconut milk and toasted cashews. Delicious! Here’s how to make it…

South Indian Dahl
By Leela Cyd of Tea Cup Tea

“Dahl” is a ubiquitous catch-all phrase for most any stew in India made from pulses. Every cook in India prepares her dahl with a slight variation mostly according to region, tradition and availability. From the addition of tamarind paste in Kerala to a splash of cream in the Punjab region in the North, I delighted in this nourishing dish almost every day while living in India a few years ago. It’s so comforting and always hits the spot, especially on cold days.

Once you gather all the spices and pantry staples, this version of dahl is easy to whip up in about 20 minutes. I love it because it’s incredibly flavorful and satisfying, and absolutely easy. When accompanied with some rice or a little flat bread and some garnishes such as fresh cilantro, toasted cashews or mango chutney, you’ve got an inexpensive, vegetarian main dish everyone will go gaga for. It’s a showstopper! My secret weapon, which an innkeeper in Panaji, Goa, showed me with her dahl, is to enrich the whole thing with coconut milk. This subtly creamy, decadent touch makes the dish beyond delicious.

Recipe: South Indian Dahl
Serves 4 as a main dish

You’ll need:
3 tbsp. ghee (or vegetable oil and you’ll keep the whole thing vegan)
2 small red onions or 1 large one, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. chili powder
Pinch of ground cardamon
3 dried red chilies, chopped into 1/4″ pieces
1 tsp. salt
A few dashes of pepper
8 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch nub ginger, minced
1 1/2 cups masoor dahl (orange lentils)
4 medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
Juice from 1 lime
For garnish: Lime, cilantro, toasted cashews

What to do:
Heat ghee on medium heat and add spices and onion, stirring continuously for about five minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another one or two minutes. Then, add lentils, tomatoes and liquids. Crank up the heat to medium-high and stir continuously, until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot with rice, naan or a crusty roll. Garnish with toasted cashews and cilantro. (I love extra lime wedges for squeezing on top, as well as extra salt and pepper.)

Thank you so much, Leela!

P.S. More best recipes, including four-ingredient fudge and chai tea.

(Photos and recipe by Leela Cyd of Tea Cup Tea. Thanks to Shoko for helping with this series.)