If you’re an Indian, STEP AWAY FROM THIS POST!!!
You don’t need a recipe for dal – you’ve probably been eating it since you were yay high *tapping my shin to indicate height*.
You can probably whip up some dal in your sleep – though I caution you against it!
I’m listing this recipe down because some of my Aussie friends have been asking for “a good dal recipe”.
I reserve my Indian cooking for the weekends since it is labour- and time-intensive – what with all the spice grinding and masala mixing!
On some Saturdays, it’s all the bells and whistles.
But last Saturday, all I craved a simple dal and rice. Make that a mountain of Basmati rice ladled over with thick, tasty dal.
With some of my M-I-L’s sweet-spicy carrot pickle and a pile of papads (that’s what Indians call papaddams) as accompaniments, we were soon groaning from over-indulgence. Thank God for Saturday siestas! 😉
1/4 cup each of split chickpeas, red lentils, green lentils and split pigeon peas
OR 1 cup red lentils
1 onion, finely diced
2-3 flakes garlic, smashed with the back of a knife
1/2 inch piece ginger, grated or julienned
1-2 chillies, according to how hot and spicy you want your dal
1 tomato, finely diced
1/2 tsp each garam masala and cumin powder
A handful of coriander, chopped
Salt to taste
For the tadka (tempering of spices)
2 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp each turmeric and black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
8-10 curry leaves (these keep well in an air-tight jar in the fridge although they may lose their bright green colour)
I usually like to use three-four different types of dal (see photo above). However, if you do not have a pressure cooker, use only red lentils since they cook really quickly.
Soak the dal(s) for at least an hour or two, adding 1 heaped teaspoon of soda bicarb to it. This takes care of the “gassy” element in your lentils and helps avoid the embarrassment of – of how should I put this delicately? – farting in public.
Rinse the dals, changing the water several times, until it runs clear.
I start with the tadka. This is simply the tempering of spices to release their flavours. Traditionally, it is done right at the end, poured on top of the dal after it is cooked, But I prefer to start with it.
In a pressure cooker (or a pan, if you are not using a pressure cooker) add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric powder and curry leaves. Once they release their aroma, add your oil.
The mustard seeds will start popping. That’s your cue to add garlic, ginger, chilli and onions. Cook until onions are translucent.
Add tomatoes, salt, ground cumin powder, garam masala powder and cook until tomatoes are soft and pulpy.
Add rinsed dals. Stir to combine. Add enough water to cover the dal with an extra two inches of water.
Close the pressure cooker and let it come to pressure. Simmer for ten minutes after it whistles. Then switch off.
Once the cooker has cooled down, open it. Stir through chopped coriander and a good squeeze of lemon juice.
So tell me, how do you cook lentils? Do you own a pressure cooker? What do you like to do on Saturdays? Do you indulge in siestas?