Homecooked comfort in one bowl! This is the simplest and quickest way to paradise. Plain, simple & bursting with nutrition in every way, without any masala, fat or any fancy ingredients. Reminding you of home in every way!
Dal and rice are in fact the first solid foods given to an infant (in a mashed version) around the sixth to eighth month after birth in India, often with a little ceremony to mark this important first milestone in a baby’s calendar. Same goes for the elderly & indisposed, where the water off the top of the boiled lentils is fed to boost up their protein & other essential nutrients when most other foods are off their list. That’s the kind of importance and reverence that lentils enjoy here in India and in several other parts of the world and rightly so, being the main source of vegetarian protein, the building block of good health!
Dals encompass a very large category of both whole & split dried pulses & legumes, both with skin & skinless, however I will be focusing on the split variety here that does not require soaking for long hours, but most certainly offer you all the required essential nutritive benefits. Each region of India has its favourite choice of dals, all prepared quite differently from one another and often choosing to mix them in interesting combinations for added variety.
India probably being the largest producer & exporter of dals, has a huge variety to boast of, and here I will be speaking about the most popular & common one, the Tur Dal or Pigeon Pea lentil, widely used across the length & breadth of India in a myriad ways. A weight watcher’s delight when cooked the basic traditional way without much fat, tur dal contains good quantities of folic acid, potassium, carbohydrates, magnesium & potassium.
Another widely used dal is the pink salmon coloured split red lentil known as masoor ki dal which is even lighter to digest & faster to cook, requiring no pre soaking whatsoever, a pleasant earthy flavour & again offers good levels of protein, dietary fibre, complex carbohydrates, phosphorus, folate & vitamin B complex, zinc & magnesium with a low glycemic index, so good for diabetics.
Most dals can be added to a variety of rice dishes, vegetables & even sweet dishes to enrich & add nutritive value. I would be glad to showcase various dal recipes on my blog from time to time to provide you with a wider range of protein rich meals. You could have it just by itself as shown above with rice & a cut salad or as a soupy accompaniment to your non vegetarian meal.
Served above with plain hot steamed rice, mixed salad & roasted papad/poppadum rolls. Just as I said, home in one bowl!
- ½ cup split tur dal / arhar/pigeon pea lentil/red gram dal
- ½ cup split masoor dal / split red lentil
- 2 green chillies, roughly chopped (deseeded to cut spice)
- 2 – 3 medium size tomatoes, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric / haldi powder
- ¼ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder or to your taste
- Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds / whole jeera seeds
- ¼ teaspoon asafoetida / hing powder (optional)
- 3 – 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional)
- To cook the dal, first rinse it well a couple of times until the water runs clean. Cook the dal in the pressure cooker with double the quantity of water or 2 cups for 5-6 whistles or until well cooked.
- Once the pressure settles down, open the lid and check that the dal is completely cooked & mushy. Mash the dal with a whisk or spoon until you get a smooth soft consistency.
- Add salt, turmeric powder, green chillies, chilli powder, chopped tomatoes and coriander leaves add to the dal.
- Add 2 cups of water and boil on a low to medium flame for about 5 minutes or until it reaches the required liquid consistency.
- If you wish to temper, heat the oil, add mustard and cumin seeds and once they crackle, a pinch of red chilli powder & asafoetida (optional), switch off the flame & add to the dal. Instantly cover for a few seconds to prevent the flavours and aroma from escaping into the air.
- For garlic lovers, 1 teaspoon of finely minced garlic added to the tempering & fried until golden brown adds a unique intense flavour.
- Garnish with few chopped coriander leaves.
- You can prepare this savoury lentil curry using just one of the two dals listed above for a change in flavours.
- The masoor or pink lentil is much lighter on the stomach & much faster to cook.
- Both green chilli and red chilli powder lend their own unique flavours and you can use these according to availability or your ability to take spice. Green chillies when deseeded are less spicy. Kashmiri red chilli powder offers a rich red colour without too much heat.
- Tempering is mainly a flavour enhancer & can be totally skipped by weight watchers.
- A tempering in ghee/butter instead of oil always adds a ton of flavour, provided you have no dairy related issues.
- Due to the high quantity of pesticides, chemical fertilisers, etc., though much more expensive, I always prefer buying certified organic dals that use an eco-friendly, natural and chemical free methods in growing, harvesting and polishing.