Red lentils and cauliflower are simmered with the Bengali 5-spice blend Panch Phoran in this delicious vegan dal.If you want a more assertive panch phoran taste, grind an additional 1/2 tablespoon of it and add it during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Pick over and rinse the lentils and add them to a pot with 4 cups of water and turmeric. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the dal is tender, about 20 to 35 minutes. (Or place in Instant Pot or pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 7 minutes; allow pressure to come down naturally for at least 15 minutes before quick release.) When done, add salt and set aside.
While the dal is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Heat a large, deep skillet, preferably non-stick. When hot, add the oil and shake it to spread it around. Add the panch phoran and stir. (You may instead use oil spray; spray before and after adding the panch phoran.) When the first seed pops, immediately add the onion, garlic, pepper flakes, and ginger paste. Stir and cook until the onion softens, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cauliflower, and 1/2 cup water, and stir. Cover and cook until the cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes.
When the dal and cauliflower are both done, add the dal to the cauliflower mixture. Stir well, and check seasoning, adding more salt if needed. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve hot, over rice if desired.
*Tempering the spices in just a tiny bit of oil keeps this dish low-fat while preventing the harsh flavor that can come from burned seasonings. If you absolutely refuse to use even minuscule amounts of oil, you can try dry-toasting the panch phoran, but you do so at your own risk!Each serving is zero points on Weight Watchers Freestyle plan.