My quick go-to recipe? My craving for comfort food? Lentil dal & rice. Delicious. Everything you need in a meal. The perfect combination! It’s also something you have to try really hard to mess up. Experiment in anyway you can. Different dal’s, or lentils, from mung dal (the yellow split one), red lentils, the green mung beans, even the green french ones or green split peas! Don’t be afraid to experiment. I like to add vegetables to mine, Kale, spinach or broccoli; to get more green leafy vegetables into my diet. If you don’t have some of the spices or ingredients, don’t let it put you off from making it, skip them, try others. Don’t have rice? Make a soup! Just try, try & try again & work out what your perfect dal recipe is!
I have a pressure pan but you have to be careful with these smaller lentils, they burn quickly & cook on the stove in 30 minutes. Whilst the key to the perfect dal, is apparently the long, slow cooking. Sometimes you just need food & fast. This for me is that food. With practice I can rustle it up in about half an hour.
Felicity Cloake, does the hard work for us, comparing the various different methods & styles of cooking Dal, delivering her recipe for perfect dal as below, here for the Guardian.
My simple, humble, in a rush version would be:
Wash 1 cup of red lentils until the water runs clear. Put in a pan with 2 – 3 cups of water, half a chopped onion, 1 chopped tomato, 1 inch of chopped ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric, 1/2 cinnamon stick, 2 cardamom pods, 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala. Bring to the boil, skim of the scum that comes up & simmer until cooked. Adding handfuls of spinach etc half way through/towards the end depending upon how much you want them to merge into the dish indistinguishably. Add more water as required to get the consistency you like. Thinner more watery, or thick & stodgy (I’m the latter!) Be sure to let it cool. The perfectly mooshed up dal is like molten lava! Try different amounts of the spice powders to find the combination that suits your palate.
Let me know how you get on!
And now for a much more sophisticated & well researched version, adding the tarka at the end.
Felicity Cloake’s perfect dal
400g mung dal (skinned yellow split mung beans)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4cm piece of root ginger, peeled and cut into 4
1 tbsp turmeric
4 small green chillies, 2 finely chopped, 2 left whole
2 tbsp groundnut oil
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp crushed chilli
Fresh coriander, chopped to serve
1. Wash the dal until the water runs clear, then drain and put in a large pan and cover with 2 litres of cold water. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
2. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric and chopped chillies to the pan with a pinch of salt, turn down the heat, cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and simmer very gently for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally, until the dal has broken down completely and become creamy.
3. Add boiling water or reduce the dal further to achieve your preferred consistency if necessary, and season to taste – I add about 1 tsp salt – then add the whole chillies and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat the ghee or oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and add the shallots. Stir until golden and beginning to crisp, then add the dried spices and cook for a couple of minutes until the mustard seeds are beginning to pop. Tip over the dal, stir in, and top with chopped coriander. Serve with plain rice or flatbreads.