A not so long time ago, I was living in Bombay where you could call up the grocery store and everything gets delivered to the house. Only one problem, you had to know the names of the ingredients correctly. Forget cooking, I had to first learn the names of different powders and the hazaar varieties of dals/lentils..masoor dal, arhar dal, urad dal, chana dal, akka masoor....how many varieties of dal are there? I used to order one dal (with the wrong name)and then argue with the shopkeeper wondering why another one got delivered.
Dals are at least localized in states of India, so you need to learn only 4-5 names. Here, an Indian grocery store caters to people from all regions of India and is like an encyclopedia of lentils and beans. My mom visited the stores here and had never seen such a variety of lentils back in India. Add to that the Spanish list of beans.. now we have so many dals/lentils/beans to explore.
There is the ever popular Legume Affair going on every month for the beanophiles and I wanted to participate too. It was started by the Well Seasoned Cook and this months its hosted by Simple Indian Food. Check it out for the global variety of the legume and bean recipes every month.
And yet, here I am with my staple dal....not the party happy ma ki dal ( which is in the sidelines) or the tadka dal or the southern sirens parippu curry and sambhar.... this one is an introverted quiet dal which never is seen outside of the family dinner table...doesn't even get offered to house guests so much. Its a distant cousin of the Egyptian flat sturdier lentils which get used up in salads and soups. This dal though whole, doesn't need any soaking and gets cooked and smashed pretty quickly. Goes well with jeera/cumin flavored rice, plain rice and rotis. Customize it any way you like, with ghee tadka, with cream, more spices, less spicy etc for a easy dose of protein. But this is the starting point of the dal.
You Will Need:
Masoor Dal – 1 1/2 cup, washed and drained
Onion -1 small one chopped
Tomato- 1 chopped
Green chilies-2 chopped up
Ginger-1/2 inch piece
Coriander powder-3/4 tsp
Whole cumin seeds-1/2 tsp
Red chili powder -3/4 tsp (use more or less as per taste)
Oil 2 tbsp and Salt to taste.
- Crush the ginger garlic to a paste. Heat oil in a non stick pan and add the cumin seeds. When they sizzle, add the onions, and saute on medium heat till they turn brownish.
- Add the ginger garlic paste and red chili powder, coriander powder and turmeric. Stir and then add the tomatoes and cook for another 5-8 minutes till the tomatoes break down.
- When they are pulpy and move together as a mass, add the washed dal. Mix well and transfer to a pressure cooker and add 3 cups of water and salt.
- Pressure cook for one whistle and then lower the heat to a bare minimum for another 10 minutes. Turn off the flame and allow it to cool down before opening. Adjust the taste and then add chopped fresh cilantro.