Dal Soup at the Mukut Restaurant in Ottawa
The Mukut Restaurant, near the lower end of Rideau Street in Ottawa, didn’t really inspire me to make it a regular stop on my visits to the capital. The place was clean and comfortable, and the service was just fine, but the dishes I tried there were just not that impressive in a good way. The Dal Soup pictured above managed to escape being poor in quality, but it wasn’t especially good either.
After ordering a beer to sip on while perusing the menu (they have two Indian beers available), I was served with a complimentary Papadum, which, in this case, was made with whole cumin. This is very common in Indian restaurants but, somewhat unusually, there was no chutney or other dipping accompaniment provided. I didn’t care about this actually, but I am not sure if this is standard here, or whether it was just overlooked.
In any event, I decided to try the Dal Soup as a starter, even though this is not something I would generally order as I am not a huge fan of lentils. I disliked them as a child and have only come to a grudging appreciation of some lentil preparations as an adult. Still, I like to try different things at restaurants, especially as you sometimes you discover you can enjoy something you previously found unpalatable.
For those unfamiliar, the word ‘Dal’ refers to a wide range of dried lentils, peas, and beans that can be cooked without soaking, and which are an essential element in Indian cuisine. There are many different types, and though the menu at Mukut did not specify the specific one used in their soup, I am relatively certain that it was the yellow ‘Toor Dal’, also known as the ‘Pigeon Pea’.
When it arrived at the table, the soup actually looked pretty inviting. It had spinach added, which gave it a textural counterpoint as well as an interesting color contrast, and there was a slice of lemon included as well. Unfortunately, the visual appeal belied the actual taste experience.
Generally, most Dal preparations I have had have been indisputably Indian in character by virtue of the spices used. Here, though, the only flavoring I could detect were Cilantro and the Lemon. There were none of the usual aromatics present and, as a result, the Dal Soup at Mukut was a bland and uninteresting disappointment. A shame, really, given the promising appearance.