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/

 

Urad & Chana Dal Masala (Spicy Punjabi Dal)

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Urad & Chana Dal Masala otherwise known as “Maa Chole ki Dal” is one that is commonly relished in Punjabi households. Made from tempering a combination of split urad dal and chana dal (split bengal gram) lentils in a typical Punjabi masala, this dish never fails to satisfy at dinner time! This is a favourite of my Pops, especially when served with red onion, raw mango pickle and fresh hot tandoori chappatis. Creamy in texture and spicy in flavour, it’s not hard to see why it tops his list (well..he doesn’t actually have a list..but if he did, it would!). Check out the recipe below. Comments/tweets are always appreciated!


Serves 4

What we need:
1/2 cup split urad dal lentils
1/2 cup chana dal lentils (aka split bengal gram)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1 onion, finely chopped
2″ ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1 green chilli, finely chopped
2 plum tomatoes plus 3 tbsp juice (from tin)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp paprika
Handful fresh coriander

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How to: 

  • Soak both lentils in water overnight. Wash well and rinse.
  • Add the washed lentils to a pressure cooker. Add approx 4 cups of water, 1 tsp of salt and the turmeric powder. When the first whistle goes, cook for a further 20-25 minutes. (If you do not have a pressure cooker, cook lentils in a pan with approx 5-6 cups of water. Cook them until they are tender and slightly mushy in texture.
  • Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. When the seeds begin to splatter, add the onions. Now add 1 tsp of salt and mix continuously until the onions begin to brown slightly. Once light golden, add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Mix well.
  • Now add the garam masala, paprika and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes at this point and mash them well with a wooden spoon. Continue to mix and cook for 2 minutes.
  • When you begin to see the oil separate from the masala, add the coriander and mix. You are now ready to add the masala to the cooked lentils. Once you have added the masala to the dal, mix well and add approx 1 cup water (or according to how thin/thick you would like your dal to be).
  • Bring to boil on high heat, mixing every 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat. Check for salt and adjust accordingly.
  • Serve with fresh chapatis and salad.

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