Andrea’s Gorgeous Tarka Dhal – The Recipe

Andrea has got a great blog, and what’s more, she’s a great girl! If you can read Croatian, do head over to her blog Voce & povrce and start reading now! If not, well heck, how about learning Croatian? 🙂

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This is the her dhal that I raved about in my previous post. It’s not just that I’ve never met a red lentil dish I didn’t like. It’s not that I’m being subjective here. Oh no! This is really and truly delicious! I love the double dose of cumin in the tarka, seeds and powder, the scent of turmeric, and the lusciousness of the tomato and onion sauce. I love how well it goes with the lentils, and oh the simplicity of it all! It doesn’t take too long to cook, either. Red lentils take about 30 – 35 min (OK, longer if they’re older! like any lentils really), and during that time, you can prep and cook the tarka.

I stuck pretty much to Andrea’s recipe, making minor changes: using ghee instead of oil and black instead of yellow mustard seeds. I also changed the cooking method slightly, in that I cooked my onions until golden, and my tarka for a bit longer, because this is the way a Punjabi friend taught me. 

 

 

 

 

 

Tarka Dhal

 

SOURCEAndrea

PREPARATION TIME: about 5 – 10 min

COOKING TIME: 30 – 40 min

CUISINE: Indian

SERVES: 2

INGREDIENTS:

200 g split red lentils (masoor dhal)

600 ml water

1 large tomato (or 2 – 3 tinned plum tomatoes)

50 g onion

2 red chillies

1/2 tsp mustard seeds (I used black mustard seeds)

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp turmeric

2 tbsp oil (or ghee)

salt to taste

METHOD:

1. Rinse the lentils a few times, until the rinsing water runs clear.

2. Transfer the lentils in a thick-bottomed pan, add the water and cookon medium to high heat until boiling.

3. Skim off the foam that gathers on top as the lentils start boiling, and then lower the heat and continue cooking until  the lentils soften. Stir occasionally.

4. While the lentils are cooking, start making the tarka. Chop the onions, tomatoes, and chillies (removing the seeds if you prefer less heat). I like a bit of texture in my dhal, so I simply sliced the chillies into rounds, and chopped the onions not too finely.

5. Heat the oil on medium to high heat in a small pan, and when bubbling, add the cumin and mustard seeds. When the cumin becomes fragrant, and the mustard seeds start popping, add the onion and chillies, and cook until the onions become golden.

6. Add the turmeric and cumin powder, and stir for a few seconds. Again, until the spices are fragrant. Not for too long, or else the spice might burn. Trust your nose. You’ll learn soon, if you haven’t already. (‘ve grown to love the smell of turmeric frying!)

7. In go the tomatoes! Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture gets glossy, which is a sign that the oil is starting to separate, and that your tarka is done! This will take about 10 minutes or more, depending on how watery your tomatoes are. You can, of course, cook it for less, but it tastes better, richer, this way.

8. Add you tarka into the lentils and stir through. It’s often nice to reserve a bit of tarka and use it as a topping when serving the dhal. Put in a pinch of salt or two, to taste. I like my dhal thick, but if you don’t add a bit more water. Likewise, if you find it too watery, simply boil the lentils for a bit longer with a lid of. I guess it’s better if you keep an eye on the lentils as they’re cooking, rather than having to do this at the end. I should have told you that earlier, sorry!

Serve with rice or bread (chappati, naan, or any bread really), or as a part of an Indian (or other) meal. Enjoy!

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More dhals from this blog:

Bengali Red Dhal

Minty dhal (2 versions of the recipe)

Punjabi Green Lentil Dhal

Sri Lankan Coconut Dhal

 

Also:

More recipes with beans and lentils

More Indian recipes

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I’m submitting this post to the February MLLA (My Legume Love Affair), hosted by Rachel, the Crispy Cook. The event was started by legume-loving Susan, The Well Seasoned Cook.

For the winter blues: Sri Lankan coconut dhal

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Hello! How are you, how’s the world at your end? Here in the UK, we’re cocooned in layers of snow of varying thickness, depending on where you are. When I was coming home tonight, around 6.30 pm, I felt this thick layer of snow under my feet is starting to freeze. I wonder what we’ll wake up to tomorrow. As idyllic as it all looks, us Mediterranean types are not faring to well in these conditions. All I want to do is hibernate until the sun shines back on us again. But though I refuse to believe it, the life goes on. There are jobs to do, people to see, dinners to cook… Yes… Dinners… Here’s what kept me awake and re-energised me this evening. Remember that delicious Sri Lankan dhal I was telling you about earlier? Here’s the recipe. Without the photos for now, until my camera awakes from its winter sleep. (I meant to take photos this evening, but my camera failed me.)

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This dhal is a serious contender for the title of my favourite dhal, so far held by the seductive Bengali Red Dal. It has a rich gutsy flavour of red lentils cooked with onion, garlic, chillies, and cumin and black pepper, imbued with the heady aroma of curry leaves, and with a squeeze of lime to heighten your senses. I normally prefer to eat my dhal on the same day I make it, but this one I find improves with time. That is if you can stay away from it and leave some for tomorrow. I’m proud to day that this time I managed to do just that. Not even I can eat this much dhal at one sitting!

Let not the long list of ingredients intimidate you. This dhal is really very easy to make, and you can leave it to look after itself while you’re doing something else. Like making Sri Lankan coconut rotis, for example. Yes, that’s a good thing to do. (Recipe coming soon.) 

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Sri Lankan coconut dhal

 

SOURCEJasmine’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: under 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 45 min

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 3 – 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of red lentils

1/4 red (medium to large) onions, or 2 shallots

2 large cloves of garlic, sliced

3 green chillies, roughly chopped

a handful of fresh curry leaves, shredded

1/3 tsp turmeric

2/3 tsp roughly ground cumin and black pepper mixture

1 scant tsp of fenugreek seeds

1/5 – 1/4 can of coconut milk

Juice of 1/2 lime, or more to taste

3 – 4 dried red chillies

salt to taste

a handful of (preferably fresh) curry leaves

1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee

1 tbsp tempering spices (mixture of brown/black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds – see Sri Lankan spices for recipe)

1 1/2 tbsp fried onions (or 3 – 4 shallots, shredded and then fried as below)

 

METHOD:

Place the lentils in about 2 – 3 cups of water. Then chop the chillies, onions, garlic, shred the curry leaves and add them to the lentils, together with turmeric, fenugreek and the cumin and black pepper mixture. Boil together until the lentils turn soft.

When the lentils are soft, add the coconut milk and stir through.

Before you’re ready to eat, prepare the tadka or tempering for the dhal. I usually don’t have fried onions at hand, so this is what I do. I heat the oil and then add the chillies and the curry leaves to it. when the curry leaves are starting to turn crisp, I pop in the onions/shallots, and cook them until they’re almost copper brown. Then add a few more curry leaves (if you want, which I invariably do), and the tempering spices. Stir for 10 s or until they release their fragrance. Now pop the contents of the pan into the lentil mixture, reserving perhaps some for the garnish. Stir, put the lid back on, and leave it for a minute or two for the flavours to mingle and make friends.

Don’t forget the lime. I sometimes add it before adding the tadka to the lentils, and sometimes after the tadka. Either way, don’t leave it out. It really does make all the difference.

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More dhals from this blog:

Bengali Red Dhal

Minty dhal (2 versions of  recipe)

 

Also:

More recipes with beans and lentils

More Sri Lankan recipes

 

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We’re at the 8th helping of My Legume Love Affair hosted and organised by the talented Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. This is my entry for the event.  

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RCI: Bengali Red Dal

Blogging event Regional Cuisines of India (RCI) was started by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine, to celebrate the rich and diverse cuisines of India, and is hosted by a different blogger each month. I think this event is a fantastic idea, because not only does it encourage us to explore the many varieties of regional Indian food, but the round-ups also provide excellent resources of information and recipes! For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a page to it that contains round-ups of past events, and RCIs that are yet to come, so that I can find it and refer to it easily!Photobucket

This month, we are exploring the cuisine of West Bengal, and our host is Sandeepa from Bong Mom’s Cookbook.

Food is very important to Bengalis. Traditional feasts are carefully structured rituals consisting of numerous dishes, carefully and laboriously prepared, with different structures and  tastes playing an important part of the meal. Such feasts are always finished off with a sweat, usually based on milk and cream, for which Bengal is famous all over India. Fish (both freshwater and sea fish) and rice are the main staples of this coastal region nurtured by the Ganges river, and a delicate mixture of sweet and spicy flavours is characteristic of Bengali dishes. Mustard oil is the preferred cooking medium, and mustard seeds and greens are also used. Mustard is indeed one of the 5 ingredients in Panch Phoron, a typically Bengali mix of equal amounts of 5 spices: fennel (saunf), nigella seeds (kalonji), black mustard seeds, cumin seeds (jeera) and fenugreek seeds (methi). Coconuts and ginger are also widely used in Bengali cooking, and a touch of garam masala is often added to the food to enhance its flavours. Other characteristic ingredients include red lentils (massoor dal), moong dal (moong lentils), poppy seed paste (posto), mustard paste and mangoes.

To find out more about Bengali cuisine, please check out this interesting and informative article, as well as the Wikipedia entry on Bengali cuisine, which describes the courses in a typical Bengali meal. For a wealth of mouth-watering Bengali recipes, do check out these two fantastic blogs: Quick Indian Cooking & Bong Mom’s Cookbook

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West Bengal – Wikipedia Commons As my entry, I’ve chosen this gorgeous Bengali dal. I really wanted to make this recipe from Sangeeta’s blog, but then felt a little silly submitting her her own recipe, so I’ve chosen this one, which is similar, and yet different. This recipe features red lentils, or masoor dal, which seems to be a favourite Bengali dal, judging from the recipes I found featuring this pretty little lentil. Another important characteristics is the use of Panch Phoron. The recipe has three basic steps: the lentils are cooked with turmeric and green chili, and then seasoned with onion, tomato and ginger paste; this is then seasoned with dried chilies, panch phoron and garlic tadka. IMG_8532 

Bengali Red Dal

 

 

SOURCE: adapted from this recipe from Rumela’s web

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME: 30 – 40 min

CUISINE: Indian – Bengali

SERVES: 3 – 4Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup red lentils
3 1/2 cup water
3 green finger chilies (but see note)
1/2 tsp turmeric, or more to taste
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
4 tbsp ghee, butter or vegetable oil
1 cup minced
onions (1 medium to large onion)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
1 tsp panch phoron mix
4 dried small red chilies
3 cloves
garlic

1/2 tsp sugar (optional)

Method

1. Rinse lentils well, add water, chilies, turmeric and salt. Bring carefully to boil and cook over low to medium heat, partially covered, for 25 minutes. Cover and cook another 10 minutes. Adjust salt.

You will see the lentils go through various stages during cooking. They will first disintegrate and look like little pieces of peel. At this point, they will still taste slightly raw, and have a particular taste that I associate with raw pulses. After some time, they will disintegrate further into a velvety mush, with an addictive and comforting flavour. I find this irresistible!

2. While lentils are cooking, heat the oil or ghee in a pan. The oil is hot engouh when it starts sizzling when you insert the wooden spoon. Then add the onions and cook until they are golden brown, stirring constantly.

3. Add ginger and stir for 5 seconds. It will stick a little, but don’t worry. You’ll get it off when you add the tomatoes.  Add the tomatoes and continue cooking until the tomatoes decompose into a delicious and fragrant mush, and the oil or ghee starts oozing from the mixture.  Stir so that tomato mixture doesn’t stick. Turn heat to low if necessary.

4. Scrape out the tomato mixture into the lentils and stir it in. Stir in the sugar if using it. Let lentils sit while you make the spiced oil.

5. Do a quick rinse of the frying pan, without soap, and dry thoroughly, or use another smaller pan if you wish. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of ghee or oil and heat over medium high heat. I recommend using ghee at this stage, for superior flavour.

6. When it is hot, add panch phoron mix and heat until the mustard seeds begin to pop, which will take about 15 – 20 seconds. Mind the splattering! Then, add red chilies and fry for another 15 seconds, until they turn a little darker. Turn off heat and add the crushed garlic and let sizzle for about 30 seconds. Stir this mixture into the lentil/tomato mixture and cover the pan quickly to capture the aromas. Leave for a few minutes, and serve with rice. Adjust salt.

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Notes

We didn’t think it was hot enough. Next time, I’ll add either more green chilies, or more dried red chilies at the end. I’ll also try it with or without sugar.

At one point, I thought I used too much turmeric, but I actually liked it the way it was. Red lentils, turmeric and ginger are a fantastic combination!

 

Verdict

This dal was absolutely gorgeous! We simply loved it! The husband almost liked the pan clean! Yeap, we shall be making this again!

The flavours were fantastic, and came in different layers, corresponding to the three cooking stages (lentils, tomato mixture, tadka). As well as tasting great, it had this amazing orange hue that I really loved, and the house was perfumed by the beautiful aroma of panch phoron.

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