If you’re South-Asian, there’s a good chance that you’ve grown up on some variety of dal or the other on a regular basis. You’ve either complained about it as a child for being the main cause of your gaseous expulsions (I’m trying to be sophisticated and not use the word ‘fart’, but screw it), or you’ve licked your fingers clean and begged for seconds, like Oliver Twist.
Either way, love it or hate it, dal can be your easiest source of complete protein when paired with wholewheat chapathis or rice. Want to take this simple side to the next level? Pair it with my version of jeera and ajwain rice for the food version of a warm hug.
Cooking dal isn’t rocket science. It’s one of the easiest dishes to learn to cook, simply because it’s unbelievably versatile, easy to fix if you’ve got the texture either too thick or too runny and quick to make. Add a good dollop of desi ghee to oomph up the comfort factor.
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 cups arhar dal (aka pigeon pea)
4 cups drinking water (to soak and cook the dal)
2 tsp ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 – 4 curry leaves
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2 – 3 garlic cloves (crushed and diced)
salt to taste
1. Wash the dal in regular tap water 3 to 4 times, draining each time. Soak the dal with drinking water in the bowl for 2 hours.
2. Transfer the dal with the water to the pressure cooker and add turmeric. Cook on medium flame for 4 whistles.
3. Transfer the cooked dal back into the bowl and rinse out the pressure cooker.
4. Heat the pressure cooker on high flame until all the water from the rinsing evaporates. Add the ghee, mustard seeds, curry leaves, garlic and chilli powder and fry on low flame until the garlic begins to brown and the mustard seeds stop popping.
5. Pour the cooked dal into the pressure cooker and mix well until the tempered ghee mixes into the dal.
6. Add salt to taste and bring the dal to a boil until it coats the back of your spoon.
7. Serve hot as an accompaniment to chapathis or rice. Happy cooking!
Add a good squeeze of lime juice just before serving to perk up your dal for a hit of freshness.
Garnish with some coriander leaves to bring in more aroma and flavour to your dish.
If your dal gets too thick, correct with 1/4 cup additions of water, but remember to bring the dal to a rolling boil with each addition and keep tasting for salt.
If your dal gets too runny, boil the dal until the excess water evaporates. Check for seasoning!