Tadka Dal

The first week of August has come to an end and it has rained every single day since the beginning of the month. Why hello British summer, so nice of you to join us! (Said no one in the past 7 days). To be fair, I do like me some precipitation. Not only does it provide much needed moisture in my garden, it also proves to be an excellent topic of conversation when you are a) trying to break the ice with someone and b) need a filler for an awkward silence. Very handy indeed.

If it continues like this however, it does mean that my summer dreams of cooking up seekh kebabs, paneer tikka, afghani chicken, masala corn on the cobs & tandoori tiger prawns  (I have been compiling this list since January) on the BBQ, are well and truly over. 

It’s not all bad though, monsoon season in India results in comfort food galore (there is always a silver lining!). For me, comfort food stems from simple dishes done well. That brings me to today’s recipe of Tadka Dal. A buttery & spicy classic lentil dish that is super simple but oh so delicious. The word “tadka” refers to the tempering of spices in oil which is then added to the cooked lentils. My tadka calls for ghee, cumin, ginger & garlic which works wonders to add the perfect amount of richness, heat and flavour all at the same time…that is of course in my humble opinion!

When you make this recipe, I urge you to devour with rice or chapatis and eat with your hands. That’s right….stay away from the spoon people! The satisfaction shoots up to another level. Believe me. I hope you enjoy it – keep me posted on your thoughts!

 

Tadka Dal
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To cook the lentils
  1. 1/2 cup masoor dal*
  2. 1/2 cup yellow split moong dal
  3. 3 ½ cups of water
  4. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  5. 1 tsp salt
To cook the tadka
  1. 2 tbsp oil
  2. 2 tbsp ghee (you can just use 4tbsp oil if you have no ghee)
  3. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  4. 1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing powder (optional)
  5. 1 small onion, finely diced
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. 2 cloves garlic, grated
  8. 1″ ginger, grated
  9. 1 tsp garam masala
  10. 1/2 tsp paprika or chilli powder
  11. 1/2 tsp amchur (mango powder)
  12. salt
  13. 4-5tbsp tomato passata (You can also use tinned plum/fresh tomatoes blitzed up)
  14. 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  15. Handful fresh chopped coriander
Instructions
  1. Wash lentils thoroughly. If you have a pressure cooker, add enough water so it is approximately 2” above the level of the lentils along with the turmeric and salt.
  2. Once the first whistle goes off, reduce heat to low and cook for 6 minutes. Then remove from heat, keep the lid on and allow steam to escape naturally.
  3. If you do not have a pressure cooker, place washed lentils in a pan along with salt and turmeric with 5 and cups of water. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to bring to a simmer and a place lid on the pan. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until the lentils are soft and tender. If the water reduces before the lentils are cooked, you can add more.
  4. Whilst the lentils are cooking, heat the ghee/oil in a separate pan. Add cumin seeds, and asafoetida. When they begin to sizzle, add the onions along with the salt.
  5. Cook for 4-5 minutes until translucent and then add the garlic and ginger. Allow to cook until golden in colour. Now add the passata along with the chilli and cook for a minute.
  6. Lower the heat slightly and add the garam masala, paprika and amchur. Mix well and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until you see the oil begins to separate from the masala at the edges. Remove from heat.
  7. Once the lentils are cooked, add them to the masala sauce along with the water they were boiled in.
  8. Mix well and bring to a boil. If you think the dal is too thick you can add a little more water.
  9. Garnish with the fresh coriander. Taste for salt/chilli and adjust accordingly. Amchur adds tangy-ness. If you feel the dal is lacking slightly when you try at the end, add a little more! Remove from heat.
Notes
  1. *Measuring cups have been used here
  2. I have mixed two lentils here but you can use just one if you prefer. The masoor and yellow split moong variety do not need to be soaked before hand and cook quickly!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

 

Dal Makhani

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What pasta is to Italians is what dal is to Indians. It’s a staple across the country and when accompanied with rice it’s a dish considered to be the “bread and butter” of the cuisine. 

My cousins in India find my love of lentils a little odd. They often roll their eyes when their respective mothers tell them that “dal is for dinner”.  In fact if you asked my cousin Sahil what he thinks of lentils his response is a facial expression akin to that of the straight faced emoticon (yeah the one that has a horizontal line for it’s lips). He’d rather have a “McMaharaja” burger than masoor dal which is fair enough (Maccy D’s in India is pretty great) but I just don’t think he is giving it the chance it really deserves!

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For me, dal is quintessentially Indian. One of my fondest memories when spending summer holidays in India, was the sound of pressure cooker whistles going off at lunchtime throughout the neighbourhood. The aroma of pulses cooking away would fill the streets and I would immediately feel hungry. From moong and masoor to toor and channa, each household has their favourite dal and unique way of preparing it. I love how the amazing variety of lentils can result in endless flavours and dishes! 

Today’s recipe is one of my absolute favourites. Dal Makhani is silky, creamy and spicy all at the same time. Typically served with buttery chapatis or naans it’s utterly comforting and you are never judged for taking seconds (or thirds!). Enjoy…

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Dal Makhni
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup black urad lentils
  2. 1/4 cup kidney beans or rose cocoa beans
  3. 1/4 cup channa lentils
  4. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  5. 1 medium onion
  6. 3 large garlic cloves
  7. 3 peppercorns
  8. 3 cloves
  9. 1 black cardamom
  10. 1 bay leaf
  11. 2" piece cinnamon stick
  12. water
  13. 3 tbsp ghee or butter
  14. 1 tsp cumin
  15. 2" ginger, finely chopped
  16. 2 plum tomatoes & 2 tbsp tomato juice
  17. 2 birds eye green chillies
  18. 1 tsp coriander powder
  19. 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  20. 1 tsp garam masala
  21. 1/4 cup cream (optional)
  22. handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Place the urad lentils, kidney beans and channa lentils together in a bowl and soak in water overnight. Rinse and keep aside.
  2. To a pressure cookery, add the soaked lentils, onions, garlic, peppercorns, cloves, black cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon and salt along with 4 cups of water. Carefully place the lid on the cookery and place on high heat. When the first whistle goes off, reduce to low heat and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Allow the steam to escape naturally before opening the lid.
  3. Mash the lentils using a masher until they are blended together.
  4. If you do not have a pressure cooker, place above ingredients in a sauce pan along with 5 cups of water and cook until lentils are tender. (This will take approx 45 minutes). If the water reduces before they are cooked, add more throughout. Once cooked and mashed, keep aside.
  5. Heat ghee in a non-stick pan. Once hot, add the cumin. When the cumin begins to splatter, add the ginger and for 2 minutes until slightly brown.
  6. Now add the tomatoes along with the chillies. At this point, add the coriander powder, chilli powder, garam masala and fresh coriander.
  7. Cook for 2 minutes. When you see the oil separating, add the lentils and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add cream and cook for another minute.
  8. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Turn off heat.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Spicy Urad Dal Lentil Pakoras

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“The World is much smaller than what it used to be”… or so I keep hearing.  The number of conversations that seem to start with “Back in MY day…. blah blah blah”, seems to be growing daily… and even my brother (he’s only 18 months older than me) is getting in on the act.  What prompted this morning’s historic lamenting was the hour-long conversation I had with my Grandma in Jaipur on Skype! That’s right… I have a techno-Gran! No “Telegram” (what is that?) or faded blue-paper air-mail to keep in touch for us. My Gran is getting younger by the day, and is mos-def moving with the times!
 
Having said that… somethings never change. It still takes half an hour to get a decent connection, and the conversation still starts with the obligatory, and reassuringly loud “Haaalllllloooooo Monnneeeeee. Kaise hi tu? Vot time izit in UK?”
 
We caught up. She told me how her neighbour’s younglings were stealing mangos from the tree in the garden (as I said… some things never change-this is one of my favourite pastimes too!), and I relayed my trials of love, life and of course…food.
 
What a great way to start the day-what could top that? Well, very little in my book, but I did go on to make myself some Dal Pakoras and some cardamom chai. Bliss. If you haven’t tried them yet, well… get it sorted! Moreish, spiced and crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside…yep, I’m going to eat some more before my brother gets hold of them!
 
 
Enjoy the recipe, and let me know what you think!
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Spicy Urad Dal Pakoras
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup of urad lentils ("split white washed urad" is the variety you will need)
  2. 4 tbsp water
  3. 3 green chillis (can vary according to your personal preference), roughly chopped
  4. 2" ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  5. Handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
  6. 1 small onion, finely diced
  7. 3/4 tsp salt
  8. 1/2 tsp paprika powder
  9. 1tsp coriander seeds, coarsely ground
  10. Pinch of asafoetida (optional)
  11. Oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Soak urad lentils for 3-4 hours. Then wash well and rinse.
  2. Add ginger & chilli to a food processor and grind briefly until coarsely ground. Remove and place into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Now add the urad lentils to the food processor along with the water. Grind for a good 2-3 minutes until a thick, smooth paste forms. It should be similar to the consistency of humous. Empty into the mixing bowl containing the chills & ginger.
  4. To the bowl, add the fresh coriander, onions, salt, paprika, coriander seeds and asafoetida.
  5. Using one hand, mix the mixture for 2-3 minutes until all of the ingredients are well combined
  6. Heat oil in a pan on low/medium heat. Once hot, using your hand, drop medium sized balls of the mixture about 3" wide into the oil. If you prefer, you may use a tablespoon. Ensure you leave a little room between each pakora and that the pan is not too overcrowded.
  7. Once all of the pakoras rise to the top of the pan, turn them over using a metal slotted spoon. Allow to cook for a further 3-4 minutes. You should now begin to see the colour of the pakoras change so they are golden. Once you see this, turn each pakora over an continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  8. Once the pakoras are golden all the way around, remove from oil and drain on a kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
  9. Serve hot with tamarind chutney or tomato ketchup!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/