Dal or lentils are among the most important staple foods of Indian diet. These form the primary source of protein for vegetarians in India.
Found on every highway across India, the quintessential Indian roadside shack or ‘Dhaba’ serves refreshing Chai (Tea), local snacks, and delicious home-cooked meals to travellers and truckers alike. Dhabas have long since served as local gathering spots to all, cutting across boundaries. A warm and welcoming home-away-from-home to every passer-by. The aromas of home cooked food wafting through the air, the memory of the ambience makes it all too nostalgic.
Every Indian state, every Indian home will have their very own style of daal, each one so unique, so full of flavour. Every single restaurant or eatery will make daal differently, with their own signature of spices and ways of cooking. In the South of India, it wouldn’t be called ‘dal’ though, but still very much a part of the cuisine.
Indian cuisine also uses various different varieties of lentils, beans and pulses. A visit to your local Indian grocery should be a good place to find all these different powerhouses of protein.
This particular dal is a delicious blend of lentils and spices, simple yet so creamy and fulfilling. The creamy texture is from the combination of the various different lentils alone. The consistency a bit thicker. This recipe has been a great success at our place.
This recipe serves good 4 portions.
Ingredients required –
Soak for 30 mins in hot water.
- Red lentils / Masoor dal – ½ cup
- Yellow pigeon pea / Toor dal – 1 tbsp.
- Split washed white urad – 1 tbsp.
- Split Bengal gram / Channa dal – 1 tbsp.
- Ghee – 2 tbsp
- Cooking oil – 1 tbsp
- Cooking onion – 1 in number, finely chopped
- Tomato puree or concentrate – 1 or 2 tbsp ( adjust to taste )
- Dried whole red chilli – 2
- Fresh ginger – 1 tbsp chopped
- Garlic – 3 large cloves
- Green thin chilli – 1 chopped ( adjust to taste )
- Coriander seeds – 1 tsp
- Cumin seeds – 1 tbsp ( divided into two portions )
- Red chilli powder ( Kashmiri variety preferable) – 1 tsp ( optional )( adjust to taste )
- Red chilli flakes – 1 tsp ( adjust to taste )
- Turmeric powder – 1/4th tsp
- Whole Green cardamoms – 2
- Bay leaf – 1 large
- Dried mango powder – 1.5 tsp ( adjust to taste )
- Coriander leaves – to garnish
- Salt to taste
- Water as required
To make –
- Cook all the lentils/grams along with a pinch of turmeric, together either in a pressure cooker / slow cooker /on stove top or however you normally boil them. They lentils need to be well cooked and lost its shape completely (mashed up).
- Grind to make a coarse powder of coriander seeds, cardamom pods, chilli flakes & ½ tsp cumin seeds. Keep it covered in a cup separately until needed, so that the freshly ground spices don’t lose their aroma.
- Crush the fresh ginger, garlic and green chillies in a mortar & pestle.
- In a heavy bottomed cooking utensil of your choice, heat up 1 tbsp ghee and 1 tbsp cooking. Sizzle the cumin seeds along with bay leaf.
- Add crushed ginger- garlic and chilli mixture and sauté for about 4 seconds.
- Add the ground spice mix and give it a quick mix, immediately followed by the onions. Take care not to burn the spice mix. Sauté the mixture till the onions become glossy.
- Pour the tomato puree to this along with salt and sauté till the oil separates from the sides. It took mine about 2 minutes on medium heat.
- Transfer the boiled & mashed dal into the tomato, onion mixture and mix the whole thing well. Since this daal is more on the thicker side, do not add water or the daal boiled water.
- Mix in the dry mango powder & cook on low heat covered for another 2 minutes, with regular stirring as the daals are likely to stick to the bottom. If the consistency is too thick, add little water and mix well.
- In a separate pan, heat the remaining 1 spoon of ghee and sizzle the remaining cumin seeds, dried red chilli and pour this fragranced oil on top of the dal. This is completely optional, but it does add that extra oomph factor to the dal.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.