Dhal and roti are a staple in our house during the winter season. We consume some version of spiced, cooked lentils once a week, especially when the weather turns rainy and cold and we really need a hearty meal to warm up. Dhal is easy comfort food at its finest – and warm roti is the best for getting those last bites of lentils out of the bowl! Plus, lentils are high in protein, and whole wheat flour is a great source of fiber. With a 30-minute cook time and only four main ingredients, this is a perfect dinner to cook on your two-burner stove after a day of cragging, mountain biking, or hitting the slopes.
If you’ve never made bread before, roti is a great place to start; it’s forgiving, simple, and it mainly serves as a vehicle for shoveling dhal into your mouth. It’s easy to mix in a large bowl, and a Nalgene (or any bottle) will work well for rolling the dough. Note that in very cold temperatures it may take some serious muscle to roll the dough out, but this won’t affect the taste at all. Just put your back into it, and if you can’t get it thinner than a ½ inch, adjust your cooking times a bit.
Most of this recipe can be prepped ahead of time, which makes everything come together very quickly. I like to combine the spices into a small spice jar at home, and mix the dry ingredients for the roti into a reusable plastic bag. Note that you can use red or brown lentils in this recipe; brown lentils will retain most of their shape, while red lentils will break down and create a more soup-like meal. The raisins and cashews are totally optional, but add an awesome variety of texture.
Spicy Dhal and Roti
FOR THE ROTI
- 1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ cup water
- A small amount of flour for rolling out roti
FOR THE DAAL
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 cup lentils red or brown, rinsed and sorted
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 3 cups of water divided
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup cashews
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ¼ teaspoon garlic
- Roti: Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add oil and water, and knead until a soft, pliable dough forms. It shouldn’t be too sticky. Set aside, and let rest while you cook the dhal.
Dhal: Heat oil over medium-high heat in large pot. Add onion, and sauté until translucent. Add spice mix, and cook for another minute, then add the lentils, tomato paste, and 2 ½ cups of water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the lentils are tender.
- Meanwhile, divide roti dough into four even pieces. Shape into a small flat disk using your hands, then roll out until bread is ¼ in thick. Heat pan or griddle over medium-high heat, until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Cook bread for 1 ½ minutes on one side, or until lightly browned. Flip, and cook for 45 seconds on the other side.
- Once most of the liquid is absorbed in the dhal, uncover and add the last half cup of water. Cook for another five minutes until water is fully absorbed, then stir in raisins and cashews.
- Divide between two bowls, and serve with two pieces of roti.