♧ DAL ♧

When one enters a typical Indian kitchen, what is the one thing you are sure to hear and find?! One whistle blow and a minimum of one Pressure cooker! Elementary, my dear Watson! and ‘one’ word, in this foreword is one too many! Once again, Elementary, my dear Watson! Elementary!

Pressure Cooker is a fantastic gadget discovery, a useful cooking aide and an excellent lifetime investment. In the recent years, dependence on a Pressure cooker has increased manifolds and rightfully so!. An indispensible tool in all my years of engaging in the culinary arts.

Points in our defence :
▪ retains nutrients and flavours of the food.
▪ saves time. Big time!
▪ saves energy | gas | fuel.
▪ saves clean up effort, thanks to one pot cooking with closed lid technology.
▪ A cooler kitchen ambience both in terms of looks and feel, thanks once again to the trendy modern, less noisy, safe versions that retain heat and steam from escaping.
If you have never owned one, time to get past the enigma, the advantages are too good to pass up!

While watching a Cooking competition TV show, I noted the judges look down on the pressure cooker (pun intended) and remark “Pressure cooker has done all the cooking, where is the Chef ‘s skill here?”
Surprisingly though, I have yet to come across a scene, where they make similar observations, when a contestant uses, a Kitchen aid professional stand mixer or an Industrial oven for baking!

With dietary practices increasingly linked to lifestyle diseases, here comes a ‘Dal’ recipe, to cheer about. Dal is lentil based, hence protein rich. Nutritious, healthy, vegetarian and a simply flavoured, frugal dish.

‘Dal Chawal’, a North Indian staple is the common man’s comfort or soul food. There are diverse ways of making it, here I share with you my easy, home style, delicious pressure pan way!

Ah! the simple pleasures of life!

Prep time: 10mins; Cooking time : 20 mins; Serves : 4

Ingredients (organic and natural) :

for the dal:
  • 3/4 cup Thuvar Dal | Red gram lentil or Masoor Dal | Pink lentil
  • 1/4 cup Moong Dal
  • 3 1/2  – 4 cups of water
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dhania powder | coriander powder
  • 1 tsp jeera powder | cumin powder
  • 1/2  tsp garam masala powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp haldi | turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
for the tempering :
  • 1 tsp jeera | cumin
  • 1/4 tsp of  hing | asafoedita
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 – 2 green chilies
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 tb.sp ghee | Mustard oil | cooking of choice

for the garnish: 

  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 sprigs of coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp dry kasuri methi | fenugreek leaves
One pot ‘Dal’

Procedure :

1. Cut the onions and tomatoes into half and then cut those halves into about 4 pieces, basically chop them in big pieces and add it to a pressure pan, also add the washed and rinsed Thuvar dal. Now pour water and pressure cook with the whistle, till you hear 3 – 5 whistles. Cool down to room temperature.

2. Open and roughly mash up the lentils with the back of the ladle. Add the seasonings turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder and salt. At this stage, one can add approximately 1/2 a cup more of water,if a light and runny consistency is desired. Mix well. Let it simmer on a low flame for about 5 mins. Switch off.

3. Grind the garlic, green chilies and ginger coarsely in a blender or crush them in a mortar and pestle. Finely chop the coriander leaves. Set aside.

4. For the tadka | chaunk | tempering, take oil in a small kadai | skillet, add jeera, hing, along with the blended mixture of garlic, green chilies and ginger. Fry for a few minutes till lightly brown and the inviting roasted garlic aroma fills your kitchen. Switch off the heat. Pour this tempering, onto the Dal in the pressure pan.

5. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and kasthuri methi leaves after finely crushing them between the palms of your hand.

Variations : 

1. Few finely chopped Spinach, Radish leaves or any greens of your choice can be added in along with the seasonings, in Step 2.
2. While tempering, include 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of red chilly powder (at the end being careful about not to burning it) and 1 – 2 whole red chilly broken into 2 – 3 pieces in the above recipe.

3. General rule (time varies depending upon the quality of the lentils) to cook the dals on a stove top (if you have yet to procure the pressure cooker) – Soak the Thuvar Dal | Masoor Dal for atleast 2 hours and then cook on a slow flame covered with a lid, along with 3 1/2 cups of water for 30 mins. Check in between to make sure it does not overflow. Mash the lentils between the fingers to check if it is soft and if not boil for for some more time, till done.

Serve hot with rice, curry, pickles and experience the simple pleasures of life!!!


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