What is an event that one out of eight on planet earth is following, irrespective of the time of day at each location ? The World Cup (soccer).  I am not the one to miss out on such a momentous occasion. I immediately signed up at my favorite watering hole.  It only seemed fit to come up with a fusion dish for such a unifying, fun event.

Inspired by the ubiquitous middle-eastern hummus, I convert a regional Indian dish dalma into a dip to serve with tortilla chips. Dalma is a lentil-based dish from eastern India (Odisha; Bengal; Assam) which is oooh-so mildly flavored without drawing attention away from the staple ingredients.  I used a garam masala from Eastern India. Garam masala, which literally means “warm spice”, is actually very regional: it is a melange of carefully picked spices (such as cinnamon, cloves, mace, cardamom etc) which not just varies from region to region but also from vendor to vendor, each vying to outdo the next. The quintessential ingredient of the Eastern garam masala is crushed toasted cumin seeds. If your spice merchant does not stock this garam masala, pester them for it or simply use cumin.

Lentil is also touted as a vegetarian’s “meat” and does live up to this reputation. There is a spectrum of Indian lentils much like the Mexican beans. I use the skinned moong here for its creamy consistency. It’s classic use in Indian cooking ranges from dals to fritters (vada) to even desserts (halwa). In case you are horrified to see its use in confectionery, recall that the Japanese anko is simply azuki beans, and all of us have delighted in Japanese pastry sometime in our dining experiences. Yes, red beans that could have been in your chilli or your dessert simply by a flip of the chef’s coin. Oh, the versatility of legumes!

The final touch of the dip comes from the mustard oil (as a dressing) that gives it that unmistakable eastern Indian touch. Enjoy!

Lentil dip dalma
Special tools:

Pressure cooker, wire whisk.


  • 1 cup skinned moong lentils (yellow) soaked in plenty of water for 1 hour
  • 2 cups of greens (chard) chopped fine -without bruising– and dry-toasted on a skillet or wok for 1-2 minutes
  • 1 large pod of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • a pinch of turmeric powder + a dash of red chilli powder
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Eastern garam masala or crushed (toasted) cumin seeds
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil or extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)


Place all ingredients, except the garam masala and oil, with just enough water till all  are just immersed and pressure cook till soft. Mix in the garam masala and stir with a wire whisk.  Add the oil when ready to serve.

Serve with flaxseed-soy tortilla or regular tortilla chips.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. If you dont have a pressure cooker, no worries. Just cook in a large pot till the lentils are soft enough to be mixed.
  2. Use mustard oil if you are brave enough! It is the most widely used oil in the eastern part of India. And, yes, it can be used as a dressing oil.
  3. This treatment of the greens (dry-toasting) not just makes the greens more appetizing but also reduces the amount of salt needed for the dish.  In fact, you can store this in the refrigerator and use in a variety of dishes, from omlette to pilaf to fritters.
  4. The moong lentil can be replaced with any other lentils of your choice.
  5. How do you know when the lentil is adequately soaked: it is soft to the bite (and can possibly be used in a raw lentil salad). But a pressure cooker can power through unsoftened lentils without missing a beat.

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