Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Basic dal, three ways

Dal (lentils) is a major staple in India, especially in the South . . . supposedly there are HUNDREDS of different varieties grown all across the subcontinent. It's generally served with rice and some kind of vegetable curry. Here's a basic dal recipe that can be tweaked to make two different dishes:

#1: Tomato dal!

1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp moong dal
1 tsp urad dal
3 dried red chilis, broken into 1-inch pieces
5 curry leaves
1 cup toor dal (little yellow lentils . . . though there seem to be endless varieties of little yellow lentils . . . ), cooked, mashed, then mixed with water till they're kinda soupy. (Note: the TOTAL amount of dal used after it's soupy should be about 1 cup)
1/2 of a small tomato, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 tsp turmeric

Heat about 2 tbs oil in a pan; saute the mustard seeds, moong dal, urad dal, and red chilis for about 30 seconds. Toss in the curry leaves and the tomato; add a bit of water to cook the tomato in. Throw in the turmeric and simmer till the tomatoes grow soft. Then, add the dal and salt to taste; cook for a few more minutes to blend the flavors.

#2: Lemon dal (my faaaavorite!)

Follow the above recipe, but leave out the tomato. After you remove the dal from the heat, let it cool for a minute before squeezing in some fresh lemon juice (to taste).

#3 Tamarind dal (a new favorite!)

about 1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste (you can find it in Indian or Middle Eastern stores), dissolved in water to make a smooth liquid

Follow the recipe (including the tomato, minus the lemon). After you've allowed the dal to boil for a few minutes, add the tamarind and allow it to boil for another minute or so. This will give it a yummy, tangy/sourish kinda flavor :)

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