Full of protein and rich in calcium, iron and B vitamins more than 60 different types of dal (or dhal) are made across India. It is the core dish of the meal on any dining room table in India and no traditional banquet would be complete without it.
From humble beginnings this pulse has elevated its way from a pot simmering on an outdoor fire in rural India to some of the finest Indian restaurants across the globe.
It’s a staple comfort all year round food – regularly eaten with rice, roti and vegetables and typically your British equivalent of mash, baked beans or even mushy peas, at a stretch.
Every region of India claims its own authentic special flavour from a thick aromatic consistency experienced in the north of India and Sri Lanka to the more southern Indian souplike spicy versions such as sambar.
Whilst a lot of recipes suggest cooking dal in a pressure cooker I find long slow cooking in a standard saucepan with the lid ajar produces an equally good result using a wooden spoon to finish to a consistency of comforting creaminess.
Dal lends itself to every occasion from everyday dals such as chana dal, masoor dal with spinach and sambar to celebration dals such as tarka dal, shabey ki dal and my all time naughty but nice favourite dish – dal makhani.
- ¾ cup whole urad (whole black lentils)
- 2 Tbsp kidney beans
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 green chillies, slit
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 2 cloves
- 3 green cardamoms
- ½ cup finely chopped onions
- ½ tsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 ½ cups tomato pulp
- ¾ cup cream
- 3 Tbsp butter
- Salt to taste
Wash & soak lentils & kidney beans overnight, drain and boil with salt and 2 cups of water until cooked then whisk well with wooden spoon to mashed consistency. Heat butter in pan add cumin seeds, when crackling add the green chillies, cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom, onions, ginger-garlic paste and sauté till the onions turn golden brown in colour. Add chilli powder, turmeric powder and tomato pulp and cook over medium flame till the oil separates from the tomato gravy. Add the dal mixture, ¾ cup of water and salt if required and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the cream and garnish with coriander & butter before serving.
If you’d like to learn Indian Cooking from the homeland then check out some Goa cooking courses available from October to April.