This afternoon, when I soaked the daal for the evening’s meal, I found myself thinking that I did not want to make varan yet again. As I mulled over the various ways in which arhar can be cooked, I remembered for the first time in a long while of a childhood favorite – a sweet and sour version of this lentil.
My mother sometimes made arhar flavored with tamarind and jaggery. And though the others at home -my father, my brother and my dadi – did not favor this variation, she made it quite often just for me.
I had never made it myself until today, but managed to achieve the same taste as in my mother’s version. And I was quite pleased to see that the girls liked it too.
1 cup arhar
1 medium sized onion, chopped very finely
1 green chilly, sliced through(optional)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp of fenugreek seeds (methi)
1 clove of garlic, sliced in to thin slivers
5-6 curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
2 tsp of thick tamarind paste
1tbsp of crushed jaggery (you can vary the amount)
Soak the daal with the fenugreek seeds for 2-3 hours, then pressure cook it in 3 cups of water, with the onion, the jaggery and the salt, till the grains are absolutely soft.
When the daal has cooled down a little bit, add the turmeric and the tamarind paste and stir everything together thoroughly with a whisk so that the grains dissolve completely.
In a small frying pan, heat the oil, add the mustard seeds, then when they start to crackle add the curry leaves, the green chilly, and the garlic and stir till the garlic starts to turn a very light brown. Add this tempering to the daal and boil it for 7-8 minutes to allow everything to really come together.
This daal is just great with plain white rice. Add a little bit of ghee to that, and it’s heaven 🙂