This spicy soup is such a worthwhile dish! It definitely has all the things you might look for in a soup. Low calorie, hugely flavoursome, satisfying and (as long as the ingredients are on hand) very quick and easy to make. Be warned though, the heat is something that not everyone can take so if doing it for a crowd I would definitely use one chilli instead of three and maybe even remove the seeds. If you do like your heat though, you’ll appreciate the balance between fire from the chillies and sharp tang from the tomatoes and tamarind. The only fat that is used is the tablespoon of ghee, though I actually use unsalted butter. Its more or less the same thing though ghee has a far longer shelf life and doesn’t need to be kept cool which may explain why its so common in traditional Indian cooking. The recipe says fresh curry leaves are to be added with the tomatoes but all I had were dried so I added them earlier to the boiling water that the tamarind pulp steeps in because this liquid will be strained. I’ve heard chefs say if you cannot get fresh curry leaves you should just leave them out but seeing as I strained them out anyway I feel it didn’t matter.
While preparing the ingredients for this dish I grouped the ingredients together that are to be added at the same time, resulting in a bowl of the dried spices which are to be added first and a bowl with the fresh ingredients that are all to be added at once but after the spices. This makes Indian cooking or any recipe with many ingredients a lot less intimidating when you see a list of 20 spices needed for a dish.
1 tbsp ghee
1tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 or 4 dried Kashmiri chillies
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
0.5 tsp asafoetida
Small bunch of “fresh” curry leaves
3 green chillies
3tbsp red lentils
60g tamarind pulp
0.5 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
First, put the tamarind pulp and dried curry leaves in a bowl and pour over 100ml of boiling water and allow to steep for about 15 minutes. Then strain into a cup.
Cut up the kashmiri chillies and put in a second bowl with the cumin seeds and mustard seeds.
In a large bowl add the tomatoes (roughly chopped), green chillies (roughly sliced), turmeric, lentils and ginger (finely grated).
In a small bowl or cup combine the black pepper and asafoetida.
In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the ghee and then add the kashmiri chillies, cumin seeds and mustard seeds and fry until the mustard seeds start to pop.
Add the black pepper and asafoetida and stir for 30 seconds.
Add the tomatoes, green chillies, turmeric, ginger and lentils along with the tamarind liquid and the salt and 500 mls of water.
Bring to the boil then lower the heat and allow simmer for 20 minutes. Check for seasoning, adjust and serve.