Dull senses


“Daal is just dull”, he said with a deadpan face. He likes his pun. The dull daal is the Bengali version he refers too, the kind that is served at my parents’ house for lunch with rice – watery and mild, hardly anything there to tingle the western tastebuds. I have stopped explaining to him that the soupy daal – a Bengali version of lentils boiled and then tempered with ghee and whole cumin – is a developed taste and that daal need not be ostracized because of that. But it’s like talking to those who don’t want to hear. I try making the veggie daal – red lentil cooked in broth with diced winter veggies. He dislikes that too. “But this has veggies and lots of butter”. “Meh…”, is the reply. He doesn’t even care for Daal Makhani- the very aromatic Punjabi lentil preparation – nor the Mulligatawny.

“Mommy, I don’t like daal, I don’t want to eat it. Daddy says daal is dull.”  I think I stared at my three year old for a few minutes in disbelief before asking, “Do you know what dull means?”

“Ummm…not good”, she replies. “I don’t want it, Mamma!” No amount of explaining was going to work after that. My three year old has decided for now to go the ‘daal is dull’ route. I am convinced this is a gang-up.


I love daal like most Bengalis would. During the winter months I love to add chunky vegetables to my daal and savour it as a nourishing soup – just like my parents do in India. It is what I look forward to during the snowy winter months here in Newfoundland – but it ain’t fun drinking my daal soup all by myself.

keep calm and eat on

In a pursuit to get father and daughter to eat their lentils and winter vegetables I had to make it more like a soup they are familiar with:  a creamy vegetable soup with a butternut squash base, just a smidge of curry for spice, and apples for sweetness and tartness and hide the daal in all of that.

Did they like it? Sitting face to face at the dinner table, one said it was ‘nice’ and didn’t look for seconds, while the other ate because she could see the roasted broccoli on top and asked for extra “crunchy broccoli please!”

And I, the Bengali, loved it. I will be making it again and if they don’t like it they can try to dul-cify it! (On Facebook I would have put a big ROLF next to my pun on a pun)


Veggie Curry soup with Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients for soup:

  • Butternut Squash: 1/2 of a medium size, diced
  • Carrots: 1 large diced
  • Potato: 1 large diced
  • Apple: 1 diced
  • Red Lentil: 1/4 cup
  • Onion: 1 small diced
  • Fresh Ginger: 2 Tbsp minced
  • Cinnamon: 2 large sticks
  • Curry Powder: 2 Tbsp (more if you like a strong curry flavour)
  • Brown Sugar: 3 Tbsp
  • Butter or Ghee: 2 Tbsp
  • Water: 4 and 1/2 cup
  • Salt: to taste
  • Good Quality Olive oil: for drizzling
  • Crushed Red chill Peppers: for garnish

Ingredients for roasted Broccoli:

  • Broccoli florets: a handful diced for each serving
  • Good quality Olive oil: for drizzling
  • Course salt: : to taste


  • Heat ghee or butter, add cinnamon sticks, diced onions and minced ginger and over low heat sweat out the onions.
  • Add the diced squash carrots, potato and apple, the curry powder and the brown sugar and stir to combine over medium heat.
  • After storing the vegetables for 5-8 minutes, add the water and bring the soup to a boil.
  • Once boiled, lower heat and cover the pot and let the vegetables cook till tender, about 30-45 minutes.
  • When the vegetables have cooked take of heat and season with salt.
  • Puree the soup and add more water to bring to your consistency of liking.
  • When ready to serve, add the oven roasted broccoli on top, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with crushed red chill peppers.
  • For oven roasted broccoli, preheat oven at 400F.
  • Toss the broccoli in the olive oil and salt and lay them in a baking tray making sure they are not touching each other.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave the broccoli in for another 5 minutes before serving.

16 thoughts on “Dull senses

  1. When the little one said that, your heart must have sank! Oh well, better to lose this battle but win the war.

    I always put cumin in my very “Canadian” roasted butternut squash soup. The two really seem to have an affinity for each other. Your soup looks marvelous!

    • My brain was fighting to come up with some kind of a story to twist the whole meaning of ‘dull’, but I wasn’t prepared. Haha…not to worry I’m training her taste buds!

      Cumin is quite the staple for tempering in Bengali food. I love the earthy aroma and the occasional bite.

  2. Oh man, I can’t believe they don’t like daal and they didn’t like this that much either! Your soup recipe sounds great, though I’d probably prefer the plain old (tempered-with-ghee-and-cumin) daal myself… I should use your idea to serve broccoli with daal, too—yum.

    Here’s another idea for making daal less dull (though I don’t know if your audience will fall for it) …how about adding some halved or quartered barely-just-hard-boiled eggs? I like to add eggs as a respite from the spice when I make lentil curries that are super spicy; even though I assume you might not want to go the super spicy route for your daughter’s taste buds, maybe at least one of them would appreciate the addition of eggs!? 🙂

    • Allison I love daal any way. I have cooked daal with chicken but my husband doesn’t fall for it. The only daal addition both he and Saira loves is ‘Khichuri’ which I blogged earlier. I just can’t get my hubby to eat any red or yellow lentil. The addition of eggs is delicious. We often eat daal with rice and some boiled eggs….so comforting. And I think you’ll love the broccoli roasted slightly crispy on top of your daal…I could make that a meal…so so good! 🙂

  3. Daal is very Indian taste. Agreed.. 🙂 But your version is such a classy twist on the same. Would ping back when I try it.

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