If you are invited for a dinner to an Indian household, you can expect few certain things- Bollywood music in the background, nuts and Indian snacks ready on the table, empty whisky glasses in the corner and a host ready to fill them up the minute you enter their house (unless they don’t drink…) and awesome Indian food as a main meal. I can bet you that one of the dishes served that evening will be Dal 🙂
Dal (Daal), according to me, is the most common, traditional and famous Indian dish (next to rice and rotis/chapatis). Dal is a term used for dried, split legumes/pulses ( such as lentils, beans and peas). However, in Indian cuisine it refers mostly to lentils and any dish made from these.
There are many types of lentils. You can make the whole lentil rainbow, because there are so many different colours of lentils 🙂 There are white, yellow, red, green, brown and even blue lentils (grown in France and Italy)!
Lentils are very healthy and nutritious. They are high in protein and low in fat. Moreover, they are quite cheap so it’s a perfect budget dish 🙂
Following many Indian recipes, I always make Dal in two separate steps. In a big pot, I cook lentils in water whilst on a frying pan, I prepare Tarka. Tarka is a mix of spices and some vegetables fried in ghee or oil until sizzling and cooked.
Which lentil do I use for my Simple Dal? For this particular dal, I always use either Toor Dal or Mung dal. It’s just my preference. I’m sure you could use other type of dal.
In India, people mostly use pressure cooker to cook it. I don’t, I use simple pot for this Dal and it works well. It takes slightly longer, but it is fine with me.
If you don’t cook often Indian food, you might not have all required spices. Don’t worry! Skip what you don’t have… but buy it for the next time 🙂 The taste will be slightly different.
Bear in mind, I don’t follow strictly whether it should be 1/2 tablespoon or 1/4 teaspoon. I always add spices more or less- mostly a bit more and rarely a bit less 😛
1.To cook lentils:
- 2/3 cup of lentils (Toor Dal or Mung Dal)
- 3 cups of water
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
2.To prepare tarka:
- oil or ghee (for frying)
- 1 tomato
- 1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon mango powder
- 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
- 1/4 teaspoon of hing powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
- 10-12 curry leaves (small leaves)
STEP BY STEP:
- Wash dal 2-3 times.
- Soak dal in 1-2 cups of water for few minutes.
- Prepare pot and add dal, water (the same water where dal was soaked plus 1-2 cups more), turmeric and salt.
- Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to a low/medium one and cook until lentils are super soft and mixed with water. Stir it from time to time.
- In the meantime, chop tomato into very small pieces.
- Prepare frying pan and heat the oil/ghee.
- Check if oil/ghee is ready by adding 1-2 cumin seeds or mustard seeds. When they start cracking, it means you can add all spices.
- First add cumin seeds and mustard seeds, followed by curry leaves and hing powder.
- Add tomato, stir it nicely, then add all remaining spices- garam masala, mango powder, chilli powder, paprika.
- Stir and cook for up to 10 minutes, until tarka is quite thick, brownish and you can feel masala everywhere at home 🙂
- When lentils are ready, pour in tarka and mix well. Cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- At the end, check if there is enough water. If you like thick dal, always add less water. If you like liquid dal, always add more water 🙂 You can add more salt to taste.
- Garnish with some fresh coriander (if you like).
- Serve with rice (Indian way) or with quinoa, barley, millet, cous-cous (Polish-Indian way).
COOKING TIME: Between 1h 10min and 1h 30 min (it’s up to type of dal and amount of water)
Enjoy your meal! 🙂