Dal with Rhubarb


By Alaina Sullivan

Rhubarb, with its stringy stalk and rouge skin, is often paired with fruits, though it is actually a vegetable. Its tart flavor is typically tempered by sugar (think pie, compotes, etc.), but here it is incorporated into a savory dish that preserves its natural zing.

The rhubarb stalks join a pot of red lentils (prepared as a traditional Indian dal with ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, cloves, cardamom, and dried chile for heat). As the dish simmers, the rhubarb practically dissolves, leaving behind molten flesh and its tangy trademark flavor. The dal is delicious sprinkled with fresh cilantro and served over rice or another grain, or spread on toasted pita. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

Simplest Dal

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 40 minutes, largely unattended

1 cup dried red lentils, washed and picked over

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

4 cardamom pods

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

2 cloves

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 dried ancho or other mild dried chile (optional)


2 tablespoons cold butter or peanut oil (optional)

chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

1. Combine all the ingredients except the salt, butter or oil, and cilantro in a saucepan, add water to cover by about 1 inch, and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and keep cooking to the desired tenderness. The lentils should be saucy but not soupy.

2. Remove the cloves and, if you like, the cardamom pods (they’re kind of fun to eat, though). Stir in the butter or oil if you’re using it. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then garnish with cilantro and serve.

Dal with Rhubarb. The rhubarb almost dissolves into this, leaving behind its trademark flavor: To the pot along with the other ingredients, add 3 or 4 stalks rhubarb, strings removed and chopped.

Posted in Indian, Recipes


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  2. Rebecca said...

    Be careful! I added too much rhubarb and it ended up very tart. My kids objected to the tartness. I may try again another time with less rhubarb, but until then, this goes into the freezer in single sized bags for my lunches.

  3. Andy Pandy said...

    I also added a lot of rhubarb and it was super – so easy and quick and very very good. Try adding an all spice or two and some cinnamon bark – yumm…

  4. Nora said...

    How much rhubarb should you add? Don’t see it in the ingredients list. Thanks!

  5. Arvind said...

    To balance the tastes I advice to add cumin as well. And then to eat it with blank (bhasmati) rice.

    I also added cinnamon, as Andy suggested. And I didn’t have cilantro so I added some koriander leafs.

    It’s quite tasty.

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