Thursday, February 12, 2009

Everyday Dal

Being new to Indian cuisine, I wanted to start making the most basic foods first. I tried a yellow dal, eaten with roti and rice when I had lunch with my friend Melanie. Even though we had a couple of chicken dishes, one of which was chicken korma, my favorite was the dal and roti. I've been wanting to make it ever since. The dal recipes I've seen are either made from lentils, split peas, mung beans, kidney beans, or a combination of each. In my Filipino culture, we have something that is very similar to mung dal called balatong. Besides pinakbet, it's one of my favorite meals that my mom has to cook whenever I'm visiting her. Dal is a good substitute until I can get my next balatong fix.

I found this recipe for Everyday Dal in My Bombay Kitchen by Niloufer Ichaporia King

1 cup red lentils (masur dal), husked split pigeon peas (tuvar dal), or mung beans (mung dal)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp (or more) salt
1 onion, quartered (optional)
1 green chile (optional)
4 cups (or more) water
1 to 2 Tblsp ghee or butter
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 Tblsp finely chopped onion or shallot (optional)

Pick over the dal to remove stones and chaff. Rinse the dal and transfer to a pot; add the turmeric, 1/2 tsp salt, quartered onion, and chile, if using, along with at least 4 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer, partly covered, until the dal is tender. (Masur and mung dals soften in about half the time it takes to cook tuvar dal, which needs a good 45 minutes to 1 hour.) Watch out for overboiling, even with the heat down. It's no big disaster, but it makes an awful looking mess.

When the dal is soft and mushy, pass through a sieve or a food mill, or liquefy in a food processor or with an immersion blender, which saves you the trouble of pouring and transferring. The texture of the dal should be thick, smooth, and pourable. Taste for salt.

To finish, heat the ghee in a small skillet over medium heat. Sizzle the seeds, garlic, and onion, if using, until the garlic begins to brown around the edges and the seeds start to crackle. These sizzling seeds and garlic are known as vaghar in Gujarati, tarka in Hindi. Tip the vaghar into the dal and stir.

I found another good looking recipe with photo here.

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