Tadke vali Arhar – Our Daal for all seasons

Any day or time of the year, this daal, with phulka, is what Shri loves most to eat, I think. And when he says “I am a daal-chawal kind of person”, surely the daal he’d be happiest with would be this one.

It is made from the same lentil – arhar daal – that his other favorite, varan, is made from.

While the tadka is not very unusual, I have borrowed two little ideas from my mother in-law, and my sister-in-law Vasanti, who is another really excellent cook and her daal with tadka is the nicest I have ever eaten.

That I add jaggery to the daal is inspired by Ma’s varan; and I add the coriander leaves to the tadka towards the end of the frying process like Vasanti.

Tadke vali Arhar Daal

1 cup (200 ml measure) of arhar daal, soaked for 1-2 hours

2-3 tbsp of sunflower oil (you could replace half the quantity of oil with ghee for a great flavor)

1 large onion, or 2 small ones, peeled and chopped very fine

1 large tomato, chopped very fine

1 tbsp of chopped coriander leaves

a pinch of asafetida

1/2 -3/4 a tsp of turmeric powder

1/4 tsp of cumin seeds

1/4 tsp of mustard seeds

1/2 or 1 tsp of crushed jaggery

Pressure cook the daal in 3 cups of water, after adding salt to taste. When the daal is well-cooked (the grains should be fairly well blended), stir in the turmeric and jaggery.

While the daal cooks, in a frying pan heat the oil and add the asofetida and the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, add the cumin seeds. When these start to release their aroma, add the onions and fry them on a moderate heat until they begin to brown. Add the tomatoes and cook till they are quite soft. Now add the coriander leaves, fry for a few seconds, and add this tadka to the daal and boil everything together for 5-7 minutes. If the daal is thicker than you like, add some boiled water (sometimes this daal goes thick if kept for some time after cooking).

With the fresh taste of the coriander mingled with the richness of the tomatoes and onions, and the very mild sweet note from the jaggery, this daal really does have the most delicious flavors come together. I like to eat this one straight from the bowl, though it is great with hot rice too.

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