Thursday, January 24, 2008

How to cook dal: Arhar

Another recipe for the number one search on Timid Cook: How to cook dal!!

Am learning to buy in smaller quantities despite the hassles of shopping more. Larger quantities, I have learnt are not really economical because they attract weevils or worse (eeks). Also, I am cooking in smaller quantities. Just enough for one meal. That way we are eating hot fresh food and not storing them away in the fridge and re-heating (where they lose their taste and sometimes I forget about them and discover later, lurking in a corner and looking distincly alien with variety of growth in it not to mention the smell)!!

I didn't look up the recipe. I just followed my hunch or rather memory of the dal from the local dhaba. And I'd say it turned out pretty well and cooking time was 20 minutes max. Just the thing for a cold winter night.

What I used:

Arhar dal: 1/2 small cup about 3 full tbsp (to be precise)
Water for pressure cooking the dal: 2&1/2 cups
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Onion: 1 small
Garlic: 1-2 pods
Tomato: 1 small
Hing (asefoetida): 1/2 tsp
Dried red chillie: 1
Mustard seed: 1/4 tsp

How to:

  1. Wash the dal with several changes of water, drain and put in the pressure cooker with the turmeric, salt and fresh water. The rule for pressure cooking is that water should be approximately slightly less than double of the other ingredient in this case, dal. But given the cold weather and the fact that arhar dal takes a bit longer to cook than say masoor or moong dal, I added 2 and 1/2 cups of water. Let it cook for quite a few whistles. (I let it cook for 7 whistles of the cooker and found that the dal was still a bit hard. So I simply added a bit more water and let it cook for another 5).
  2. Chop the onions, garlic and tomatoes.
  3. After the dal is cooked, add oil to a small kadai or pan. Add the mustard seed and hing powder.
  4. When the seeds start popping, add the garlic, onions and stir till they are browned. Keep stirring or they might stick to the pan.
  5. Add the tomatoes and fry till the tomatoes release their juices.
  6. Then, add the cooked dal. If the water has evaporated while pressure cooking, add more water. Arhar dal is usually thicker than other dals, so don't add too much water.
  7. Bring to a boil, adjust salt and remove.
  8. Eat with chappatis!

Note: The red chillie can be added while tempering (before the mustard)....but A can't eat anything remotely hot. Also, while serving, add a generous spoonful or lump of ghee and if not, then buter! This step I omitted (lower calories for A)!

PS- We finished it all up and really fast and so there are no photos to show....alas!


bird's eye view said...

That sounds like a nice easy recipe. We do a variation on it at home that tastes delicious, with a little sugar.

Sukanya M said...

It would be nice if you could share you recipe with me! I tried to look up your profile but its not enabled so I couldnt visit your blog.

Srivalli said...

sukanya, can you please drop me a mail at I am not able to find your email id anywhere here...thanks

Arun said...

I am trying this right now, will tell you how it goes..

kcn_viper said...

I was guided by your recipe here. I added cumin, ginger and bay leaf as well. Added few drops of lemon in the end. It tasted great. Thanks for posting this recipe.

Abhishekh Yadav said...

i luv 2 cook dal...!