dal shorva: the indian version of soup for the soul.

Any soup cooking on the stove emits a smell of home. There is something about the moisture that fills the air from evaporating stock, making the smell of soup different from all other scents from stove top meals. The soup scented air in my apartments wraps around me like a blanket, making me warm when I'm cold, or comforting me when I'm sad. If there is one food that cures all, it is soup.
And how can I not enjoy this lovely meal when it is cold outside, and there are friends within. We tried to watch the movie 'A Single Man' this evening, but with the warmth of soup in our bellies and the lack of a working DVD player, we decided to sit and chat instead.
Fresh tea and fun conversation ensued. I blame it on the soup.

Soups are not a common traditional Indian dish, as most of the cuisine is based around thicker curries and stews. However, a thick lentil soup, with variations on spices and ingredients, seems to pervade through the cuisines of each region.
Dal Shorva (Curried Lentil Soup)

2 tbs. ghee or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 c. chicken stock
1 1/2 c. red lentils
2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cardamom
2 bay leaves
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. Heat the oil in the soup pot on medium. Add the onions and garlic, and caramelize until brown. 

2. De-glaze with the stock, being sure to stir all the lovely brown bits from the bottom into the liquid. Add the lentils and spices; simmer for about 15 minutes. 

3. Add the cauliflower and tomato. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 20 minutes. 

4. Pray. Eat. Enjoy. Envision that you are at a Krishna Janmashtami festival in India, reveling in the sights and sounds and painted blue skin.