Showing posts with label masoor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label masoor. Show all posts

Feb 8, 2016

Ingredient of the Week: What's The Deal With Dal?

Dal is any type of split or hulled lentil, pea, or beanThe word "dal" derives from the Sanskrit root "dhal" meaning "to split." It is a staple food across South Asia and most often cooked into a variety of regional soups and stews. Dal is usually served with rice and wheat flatbreads such as roti or chapatti. In combination with rice and or wheat, dal provides the essential amino acids to form a complete protein. "Dal Bhat" (literally translated from Hindi, Urdu and Nepali means "dal and rice") is a daily meal for most people in Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Dal is a healthy and affordable source of vegetarian protein as well as a good source of B vitamins, iron and zinc.


The famous dishes of the Subcontinent made with dal are many and varied- There's sambar, vada, ven pongal, and pappu in South India. Oriya and bori dried dumplings in East India. Dhansak, dal makhani, and dal paratha in North India. Mussyang is a popular Nepali dish made from several dals of different colors. Even sweets such as burfi and laddoos are made of certain dals.


The most common way to prepare dal- Simply boil it with a pinch of turmeric and perhaps some onion, garlic, asafoetida/hing, tomatoes, tamarind, or even green mango depending on regional and individual tastes. After the dal is cooked a fried garnish called a "tadka/tarka" or "chaunk" is often added. The chaunk or tadka/tarka is usually raw spices along with garlic, ginger and or onion which are tempered by frying and then poured over the dal. (In case you are interested "chaunk" is pronounced "tsonk" with heavy aspiration on the "ts.")

Common varieties of dal-


Masoor dal - hulled red lentils

Mmm...these are my favorite!
They cook down to a velvety soup.


Mattar dal - split yellow peas

Yep, they're split peas!


Urad dal- black or green mung beans, hulled or split

Split unhulled "urad dal" or mung beans
Hulled "urad dal"


Toor, toovar, or arhar dal- split pigeon peas

Sort of like split peas but with more of a nutty flavor.

Rajma- any sort of red bean from kidney beans to pinto beans

Kidney beans are "rajma"
Pinto beans are "rajma" too


Chana or Chole- Varieties of chickpeas from "kala chana" or "chhola boot" to "Kabuli chana." Chana dal can also be ground to a fine flour called "besan." Besan or gram flour is used in many things from sweets like laddoos and barfi to pakora batters. These South Asian varieties of chickpeas or gabanzo beans are a bit smaller than those seen most often in western countries. Very similar in flavor and texture though.

Dark colored "kala chana"  or "chhola boot"
Light colored "Kabuli chana"or chole
This is ground chickpea flour, also called "besan," "baeshun," or "gram flour." Besan is great for thickening soups & gravies, making crispy pakoras, laddoos, barfi, bhajis, frittters, noodles called "sev," chela, puda, you can even make cookies with it. It's gluten free and has 20 grams of protein per cup.


And that concludes my dissertation on dal for today!

Keep calm and curry on.

Our Daily Dal (Mixed Lentils)

masoor toor dal split peas recipe

Dal is the comfort food of South Asia. Mixed hulled or split lentils and peas of all sorts are cooked to a soup like consistency and served with steaming white rice, pickles/acchaari, a fresh chutney/chatni, a serving of sabzi/vegetables, and perhaps some roti or pappadums. Dal is a healthy, affordable, protein and fiber rich staple of South Asian cuisines. This is our usual recipe, it's super simple and very tasty.

Ingredients:
2 TBS ghee or cooking oil
1/2 C onion, diced finely
2 green chilis, chopped
1 tomato, finely diced
2 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2tsp paprika + 1/2tsp cayenne)
1 C masoor dal/red lentils
1/2 C chana dal/split yellow peas
1/2 C moong dal/hulled green gram
2 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) In a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat ghee or cooking oil. Fry diced onion until translucent.

2) Add tomatoes, green chilis, garlic paste, and salt while continuing to fry for 3 more minutes or until tomatoes are softened. Stir in Kashmiri mirch and turmeric powder, fry for 2 minutes.


3) Add dals to frying mixture plus 8 C water. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce to medium heat and allow to simmer uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes. Stir about every 10 minutes to make sure no dal sticks to the bottom of the pan. Add more water if necessary.
Looks a little watery at this stage.
4) If dal is to desired thickness, salt to taste and your dal is ready. If you wish your dal to be thinner, add more water. If you wish your dal to be thicker continue cooking until liquid evaporates to desired consistency. The mattar dal/split yellow peas are supposed to remain a bit chewy while the masoor dal/red lentils and moong dal/hulled green gram turn velvety smooth.
The dal is done!
Helpful Hints:
Here in South Asia we have to rinse dals thoroughly and look for insects, pebbles, twigs, or stems. I learned this the HARD way (pun intended). Please use your discretion as to whether your dal needs cleaning.

I would not recommend cooking this type of dal in a pressure cooker. Tiny particles of masoor dal can clog the steam vent leading to a possible explosion. I've never heard of this actually happening but that's what it said in the booklet that came with my pressure cooker.


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