Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Easy Dhal Recipe

I often get queries from mummies who want to learn to make dhal. And I have reminded myself over and over again to blog and share the recipe out here, but somehow it never worked out, well because I have not been blogging much lately.

I love eating dhal myself, and the kids have a love hate relationship with it. One day they like it, another day not at all. It is probably my fault because at times my dhal just turns out too spicy for the kids' liking. Over time I tweaked and removed those spicy items and now make a more calmed down version of my dhal.

There are many versions to the dhal recipe, it varies from different household and also their state of origin in India. This recipe is something that I learnt from my mom, full credits to her *sending virtual credit over the air* because predictably she does not have a website that I can link to.

I usually use the Malawi dhal, which is the most expensive in the market. For other similar looking lentils the recipe will work just as well, only the cooking time would vary.

Cooking dhal requires 2 processes. The first is to cook the lentils. Boiling in a normal pot will take up to 1 hour, but with the pressure cooker it can be done in just 20 minutes. The second process is to temper the dhal, meaning doing some spice sautee to get the aroma and mixing it into the dhal. Recipe as follows:

Ingredients A:
1 cup of Malawi dhal
1 brinjal, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 onion, chopped
3-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp fish curry powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 green chilli, chopped (omit to reduce the heat)
4 cups of water

Ingredients B:
1 tsp of mixed spices (mustard, fennel and fenugreek seeds)
1 tsp of cumin seeds
some asafoetida 
2-3 pieces of dried red chilli (omit to reduce the heat)

1 tsp concentrated tamarind paste
1 tblsp ghee
some chopped coriander leaves

1) Mix ingredient A and cook in a pot for 1 hour, or till the lentils are soft. If cooking in a pressure cooker, cook for 20 minutes or 3 whistles.
2) In a separate dish, heat the ghee in a pan, once hot add ingredient B. The spices will start to pop and release aroma. Once brown, turn off the heat and pour into the cooked dhal, and stir. If you feel the dhal needs to be softer, you can continue to boil for 10-20 minutes more.
3) Once done, sprinkle coriander leaves onto the dhal and stir.

You can also add other vegetables such as white radish, potatoes, cauliflower and beans into the dhal. This is a great way of getting all vegetable goodness into just one dish.

I grew up eating dhal and it goes the best with capati and stir fried vegetables. And since I prefer making one dish meals, as I have two little adorable (read monkey) kids to tend to, it is difficult for me to make capatis and vegetable dish after making dhal. But whenever I do, I eat it with some raw onion and Indian acar, dinner feels just like home and brings back so many wonderful memories.

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