Thursday, January 05, 2006

Dal for the family and close friends

H, a friend from work, dropped in yesterday. I was not alarmed. There was afterall mince meat that hubby dear cooked all by himself, one veggie dish, some rice and rotis (chapatis). But when hubby himself said that he didnt want the mince meat, I got suspicious. He is afterall a die-hard meat eater. He sheepishly said that it want very tasty. Oh Oh. My dear cook is not too great either. So I one hungry guest, one hungry hubby and two dishes both badly cooked. Quick fix idea (which I try every time and never fails) is to rush and get some kala dal from the fauji dhaba next door. Sure enough, it worked. This prompted a story from H . His father, after his wedding, had postponed all dinner parties till such time his wife had learnt enough. The date arrived 6 months later. She had cooked 8 dishes. They were stationed in Amritsar at that time. Everyone enjoyed the food and when asked which dish they liked the best, everyone said in unison, "the dal". The dal was the only dish she had not cooked and got it from a local dhaba!!

I have a very easy and fast dal is NOT a party dish. But works well for family and really close friends. It is really very simple to make. And once you make it, you realise how easy it is to vary the dal and the various ingredients to make your own combo.

For a great explanation on dals / lentils/ pulses, See Mental Masala's December Dal post.

You will need:

1 small cup (a little more than the tiny coffee cups) arhar dal, washed and drained
1 green bell pepper / capsicum / shimla mirch cut into long strips
1 or 2 tomatoes coarsely chopped
1 carrot, cut into long strips or sliced into roundels
1 medium onion sliced finely (optional)
3 or 4 garlic pods grated
handful of peas
5 or 6 florets of cauliflower (taken from one big one)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Cooking oil

How to:
1.In a pressure cooker, heat one tbsp oil and add 1 tsp cumin seeds.

2. When the seeds crackle, add the garlic and onions and stir.

3. When the onions become translucent, add the veggies and stir.

4. Add 1 small tsp of turmeric powder and the salt, to taste.

5. Add the dal and stir. The dal will in a bit, stick to the pan.

6. Add water. The rule for a pressure cooker is, to add a little less than double the quantity of the main item, which in this case is the dal. But since there are a few veggies along with the dal, add 3 to 3 & 1/2 cups of water. Close the lid and cook for 2 or 3 whistles. This again depends where you are. At high altitude or cold weather, pulses take more time to cook and hence more whistles.

7. Remove from fire and wait for the steam to go out by itself and the cover to drop (open). If the dal has become too thick, put it on the fire and add a little water and check and adjust seasoning.

8. If you donot have a pressure cooker, any pan with a tight cover will do. But it will be preferrable to soak the dal a few hours in advance, drain and then cook.

9. Now, if you don't want to use onions, add the veggies straight after the cumin. You can vary the dal used too. Masur and chana (bengal gram) dal works just as well.

This takes not more than half an hour from start to finish and is always, tasty! Bon apetit! I should know. Back in Paris, we practically survived on it.


Rezwan said...

Thanks for the recipe. Already mailed to my wife. I love Daal.

Sukanya M said...

rezwan..u embarass me this is so basic a recipe...she must be laughing when she reads the recipe!

Soumya said...

Thanks a Bunch Sukanya! To have such recipes available esp when you stay abroad is priceless!

Great job- I invited a couple of people over for Indian Food and this has been an instant hit!

I look forward to some more interesting cooking tips in future.

Sukanya M said...

Thanks for kind words Soumya. Means a lot for the Timid Cook that I am! The recipes on my blogs are plain vanilla tried recipes...and therefore do-able.