Shorba is a Mughlai addition to Indian cuisine. This lentil soup is not just healthy but also hearty & comforting. This is what you need on a chilly day.
What is Shorba?
Hearing the word Shorba for the first time? What does Shorba mean? It’s nothing but soup and comes from the Arabic word Shurbah meaning soup. Traditionally, Shorba is a Mughlai cuisine recipe, but now you can easily call it a Punjabi or North Indian recipe as it has found a permanent place here. I call Shorba an Indian soup because aromatic curry spices are generally used to make it. Believed to have originated in Persia, Shorba is traditionally prepared by simmering meat in boiling water along with salt and flavored with aromatic curry spices and herbs.
My Shorba is bettter than your Shorba!
Over the years, many vegetarian variants of Shorba have become popular. Vegetarians prepare a variety of Shorba recipes like Palak(Spinach) Shorba, Lentil Shorba, Corn Shorba, Tomato Shorba, etc. The consistency of Shorba varies depending upon one’s taste and cooking style. Some like it thicker (stew like consistency) and some like it thinner (soup-like consistency) . It can be served as a main course or as a starter.
The day I first encountered Shorba!! 🙂
I have a funny anecdote to share about the first time I ever saw the word ‘Shorba’ on a menu. I had gone for dinner to a local restaurant. It wasn’t a special occasion but the fact that the boy I secretly crushed upon was also there made it special. I wanted to impress him by acting really cool (like all teenagers try to do when around their potential crushes). We sat down to eat and began browsing the menu. A couple of my friends (him included) ordered Dal Shorba. I had no idea what this Shorba was, but didn’t want to sound ignorant especially in his company. So when he asked me if I was okay ordering Shorba too, I just nodded.
As an adult, I know there is nothing wrong about not knowing something – it does not mean one is ignorant! However, as a child, I didn’t want to come across like I didn’t know! I was so tense until the order came out because I had no idea what to expect. My fervent prayers that Shorba be something good were answered. The gods smiled upon me that day :)! Now when I look back at that day, I find it so silly and laugh it off but back then it was really a big deal.
The way to Shorba!
People have their own take on how to make Dal Shorba. Here is how I prepare it. But let me apologize first. I couldn’t capture the in-process pictures while preparing this recipe as there was some problem with my camera. But I promise you that I will update this post with in-process shots the next time I make this dish. Until then, here is the detailed recipe.
Boil Tur Dal(Split Pigeon Peas), spinach and tomatoes in water to which salt and turmeric have been added. I normally use a pressure cooker – but you can use whatever method you like. You can even do this in your Instant Pot.
Once the Dal is cooked, prepare the Tadka (Tempering). Heat ghee (if vegan then you can use any other cooking oil) in a Tadka pan. Once its hot, add mustard seeds and once they begin to crackle, add cumin seeds. Fry for 10 seconds and then add grated ginger, minced garlic and green chillies. Fry all of this for 30 seconds. Next add chopped cilantro and fry it for another 15-20 seconds. Tempering for your Shorba is now done.
Now you have two options here: you can mash the cooked Dal using a hand blender and then pour the Tadka over it or if you prefer a smooth homogeneous texture , you can mash the Tadka along with the Dal. Enjoy this Indian Dal Shorba/Lentil Soup warm with some croutons.
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- 1.5 cups Tur Dal
- 2 cups Spinach
- 1-2 Tomatoes
- 1 tsp Turmeric powder
- Salt as required
- 1 tbsp Ghee/cooking oil
- 1 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 6-7 cloves Garlic
- 1 inch Ginger
- 3-4 Green chillies
- 3-4 tbsp Chopped cilantro
- Boil Tur Dal/Split pigeon peas, Spinach and Tomatoes in water to which salt and Turmeric has been added. You can use a pressure cooker or even an Instant Pot. I usually use a pressure cooker and cook the mixture for about 6-7 whistles. Once the Dal is cooked, set it aside.
- Mince the garlic and grate the Ginger. Now we're ready to prepare the Tadka (Tempering). Heat Ghee (or any cooking oil) in a Tadka pan. Once the oil is hot, add the Mustard seeds and once they begin to crackle, add the Cumin seeds. Fry for 10 seconds and then add grated Ginger, minced Garlic and Green Chillies. Fry all of this for 30 seconds until the garlic turns ever so slightly brown. Next add the chopped Cilantro and fry for another 15-20 seconds. The Tadka is now ready.Be careful not to burn the ingredients - keep an eye on the flame!
- Now it's time to mix the Dal and Tadka. At this point, you have two options:(a) You can mash the cooked Dal using a hand blender and then pour the Tadka over it (b) You can mash the Tadka and Dal together. This will give you a nice, homogeneous mixture. If you don't like small spice fragments in your mouth, then option (b) is the way to go.
- Enjoy this Indian Dal Shorba/Lentil Soup warm with some croutons.
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Want to include lentils in your diet? Here are some lentil-based recipes that you can try – Spicy & Steamed Vegan Lentil Balls, Kale Adai | Kale & Lentil Savory Pancakes, Lentil & Rice Noodles | Paruppu Sevai, South Indian Medu Wada | Lentil Fritters, South Indian Spinach & Lentils Keerai | Kootu | Curry, Methi Dal | Fenugreek Lentil Stew, Thai Basil & Lentil Burger, Raddish & Lentil Stew, Moong Dal Spinach Chilla | Lentils & Spinach Crepes, Vegan Cabbage Kootu/Cabbage & Lentils Gravy, Vegan Lentil Crepes Using Leftover Dal, Lentils Beet Soup with Baked Naan Chips, Lasooni Dal Palak/Lentils Soup with Spinach Garlic, Masoor Dal/Pink Lentils cooked with Spinach and Poricha Kootu (Vegetable and Lentils gravy).