I was away this weekend to attend a cousin’s wedding which is the reason for my late acknowledgments to your mails. We had a blast even though I could not move around much due to the accident. It was fun meeting up my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins after a long time. I enjoyed dressing up and photographing them, especially the bride and her groom. She looked resplendent in her ghagra, coordinated jewellery and the glow of happiness that is special to a bride, and he looked every inch her handsome prince in his sherwani-dhoti ensemble complemented by traditional jootis! To add to the excitement that December started with, my sister and brother-in-law are coming down with their two year old baby boy soon. This is going to be a fun month!
At this point I must go straight to another simple and tasty recipe that is a family favourite, lest I get carried away! I need a strong dose of protein to keep up the energy levels this month.
It’s an Indian home so we can’t help having dal almost twice a week. Blame it on the taste but I just cannot do without my daily bowlful of lentils. Isn’t it good that something so tasty on the palette also builds your bones at the same time! On days I don’t make dal we have rasam with a protein packed veggie. Dals can never be boring as we have a wide variety of pulses and beans in India, all thanks to our tropical climate. We usetuvar dal (pigeon peas),moong dal (mung beans), saboot moong (whole mung), masoor dal (pink or orange lentils), whole masoor and chana dal (bengal gram) on a regular basis. The basic procedure is the same for preparation for any dal but each has its unique flavour and taste.
Amongst my favourite lentils is bengal gram or chana dal for its rich, nutty flavour and bright colour. For those who are afraid of the gas it causes follow this very simple procedure my friend (a nutritionist) suggested to me. Soak the lentils for half an hour in hot water, rinse and drain the water. Do this once or twice more and then cook as usual. You will also find that it cooks faster which is great as it saves fuel, time and indirectly helps you to keep the planet working great. Add minced ginger and garlic and a pinch of asafoetida(hing) if you want to be doubly sure about your health.
Dish: Chane ki dal / Masala chana dal / Bengal gram lentil sauce
Time taken: 1/2 hour including time to cook the lentils
Bengal gram / chana dal – 200g
(Soaked and rinsed twice as explained above and then pressure cooked to 3 whistles without salt or turmeric)
Onions (Chopped fine) – 1/2 cup
Tomatoes (Chopped fine) – 1/2 cup
Garlic (Minced) – 4 one head garlics or 4 cloves of a garlic
Ginger – 1″ minched
Green chillis – 2 minced
Salt, chilli powder and turmeric as per taste
Mustard oil / Kachhi ghani – 2 tbsp.
Cumin seeds / jeera – 1 tsp.
Asafoetida / hing – 1/4 tsp. or a pinch
Curry leaves / kadi patta – 1 sprig (optinal)
A wedge of lime, sticks of ginger and coriander leaves
Mash the dal slightly till it comes to a rough texture after keeping aside 1 cup. Now mix the two together.
Heat oil in a wok till smoking hot. Cool to room temperature and then heat again for preparing the tempering. Add cumin seeds followed by asafoetida and curry leaves. Add minced garlic, ginger and green chillies and saute till the garlic turns golden brown.
Now add onions and saute till pink followed by tomatoes. Add a pinch of salt and close the wok letting the tomatoes cook and sweat out their juices for about two minutes. Add turmeric and chilli powders at this this stage as desired.
Remove the lid and add the roughly mashed pulses. Mix well and adjust consistency by adding at least 2-3 cups of water. Bengal gram dal tends to thicken more than other pulses so you may get liberal with the water if you need to serve it later. Adjust salt, squeeze a dash of lime if desired, garnish and serve hot with phulkas or rice.
Try the mustard oil and notice the difference. It adds zest and flavour!