Dal has always been the classic comfort food.
This is my everyday Dal. A warm fragrant bowl with a drizzle of lemon juice soothes and coddles like old socks when I am sick in bed. The hissing of the pressure cooker speaks of homecoming and the emitting aroma welcomes us back after a long vacation. Easy and simple. We have this on rainy days and on lazy days. On days when there are no vegetables in the fridge to cook and there are no leftovers.
Indian cooking is unique. The cuisine is vast and intriguing. With so many states, each of them with their own recipes and spices, and traditions, I would say there could be as many dishes as the number of people in India. Well that might be an exaggeration, but you get the point.
However Dal reigns as a comfort food in every Indian home.
Sometimes I use the Masoor Dal, the red lentils and sometimes the Dhuli Mung Dal, this yellow husked mung. The process remains the same, but the flavors change with the change of lentils.
The variety of lentils used in India could be counted, but not how they are cooked. There could be few books compiled with only recipes of Dal. Some come with lots of spices, some with almost none. Some are light and soupy while some are thick and hearty. Some are like a dip and some are used to make salads.
We eat them with rice. We dunk our bread and soak up the flavors before taking a bite. We have them on the side or as a soup. The combination of spices play a major role in infusing that unique flavor to the so popular lentils. Then there are so many kinds of lentils to choose from. Vegetables and greens are added and sometime meat too. The possibilities thus are infinite.
Making Dal is like using a blank canvas. Each artist is allowed to paint the screen and personalize it. There is no such thing as the one and only recipe.
They are healthy, easy to make and there is no way you can go wrong with the flavors. Something beautiful is created each and every time, no matter what spices and ingredients are added to it. But it does help to have a pressure cooker to ease the cooking process and make it quicker.
My favorite way to eat this particular dal is with hot rice and a side of crispy fried Beguni. Reminds me of home. Of my maa and my family…
(Do not forget to click through the other recipes of Dal at end of post).
The Everyday Moong Dal
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 1 cup husked yellow mung/moong dal/lentil (dhuli mung dal) + 4-5 cups of water (adjust amount)
- 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- a generous pinch of hing/asafoetida
- 2 large cloves of garlic (about a tablespoon chopped)
- 4 tablespoon chopped red onion (or any kind of onion)
- 1 small hot green chili pepper (optional)
- 1/2 cup (8 oz ) grated fresh tomato (you may use a box grater)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon ghee + red chili powder for tempering (Optional)
- fresh cilantro or any other herb you want as garnish
- fresh squeeze of lemon juice
Note: If you want a different flavor, you may lightly toast the dry lentils in a dry skillet until they are deep golden color, not brown. Wash the lentils after the roasted lentils have cooled. This applies to only husked yellow mung.
Wash the lentils until the water runs clear. Allow the lentils to soak in water for a while or until ready to use.
Heat ghee or oil in a pressure cooker or a pot with tightly covered lid.
Add the cumin seeds and the hing/asafoetida. When the seeds sizzle, add the hot chili pepper, chopped garlic and onion. Cook at medium heat while stirring occasionally unil the onions start to brown and wilt. The onions will not be all brown, but only a tiny bit on the edges. (if you want this dal to be satvic, without onion and garlic, skip this step and add the tomatoes as in the next step straight after you see the cumin sizzle).
Add salt and the chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are mushy. Drain the water from the lentils and add it to the pressure cooker/pot. Add the turmeric and salt and give it a good stir. Cook for a couple of minutes or until the masala, the spice mix coats the lentils.
Add water (add less if you want a thicker consistency; with 4- 5 cups of water the lentils will be like a well blended soup but will thicken as it sits longer after it is cooked). Stir everything well and cook until the lentils are cooked through and they are not whole anymore. It will take about 12 minutes in the pressure cooker. Adjust time in a covered pot.
If you want some extra flavors you may temper the dal again just before serving. Heat a teaspoon of ghee in a small pan. Switch off the heat and add some red chili powder or smoked paprika. and immediately drizzle the contents over the dal. Garnish with fresh herbs and some fresh lemon juice.
Serve with hot rice, or bread or just as a soup.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: less than 15 minutes in pressure cooker. Variable time in a covered pot
Difficulty Level: Easy
Serves as soup or side: 4
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- Bengali Cholar Dal: Lentils with Coconut and Spices
- Bhaja Muger Dal/Roasted Mung Soup
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- Chickpeas with Roasted Cumin and Tomatoes
- Dal Makhani/Lentils Simmered in Creamy Tomato Sauce
- Dal Palak/Lentils with Spinach
- Harira – A Taste of Morocco
- Kadhi – Spiced Yogurt Soup
- Lehsuni Moong Dal: Garlic Flavored Yellow Moong
- Light Tomato Coconut Soup
- Masala Chana Dal – Spiced Split Grams
- Methi Dal (Lentil Soup with Fenugreek)
Red Lentil & Vegetable Soup
Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Sumac
Simply Seasoned Red Lentils - A Taste of Home
Red Lentils with Cumin and Fried Onions