Showing posts with label toor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label toor. Show all posts

Feb 9, 2016

Pigeon Peas If You Please...


All the hip Nepalese eat a lot of pigeon peas!

Yes, Bibi makes up silly songs to embarrass her family and anyone within earshot.
Why ever do you ask?

One of our cheerful neighbors picking pigeon peas.
Pigeon peas (Cajanus calan) are called "rahar" in Nepali.

Here she is demonstrating how to open up the rather tough pods.
And there's a pea!
Yippea!
See how well camouflaged these sneaky pigeon peas are?

The inconspicuous pale yellow blossom of the pigeon pea.
Pigeon peas, rahar ko dal, toovar dal, toor dal, or whatever you wish to call them are a major source of protein on the Indian Subcontinent. They are a perennial legume and can grow up to six or seven feet tall with a rangy habit. Like all legumes they fix nitrogen and can be used as green manure. The woody stalks are often used as kindling or as thatch for shelters. (Sometimes both, as I've seen huts thatched with this stuff go up in flames!) Although pigeon peas are widely cultivated you'll often see them volunteering in thickets along roadsides or in arid loamy fields.

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.

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