Category Archives: Daals

Tadke vali Masoor ki Daal

The very first time I cam back home for a holiday from boarding school, this daal was one of the things that Ma made for my first meal at home the day I arrived, along with bhindi ki subzi, boondi ka raita and plain white rice, because that combination had always been my favorite meal since I was very small.

I guess Ma saw from my reaction just how much I missed these things in the school mess, so every visit after that first one, for the next six years, till I started working and set up a kitchen of my own, she continued to make these dishes for my first meal each time. She still does, in fact, sometimes when I go back to see her in Jamshedpur with the girls.

So when I made this daal for the boulanger’s customers this Tuesday, I did so with a certain feeling of nostalgia.

It was then all the more wonderful to find out later that day that it got a response the boulanger called “tres bonne” (which means very good, or excellent as when it is said with the appreciation that the boulanger‘s voice showed) and so he wants to include it among the things that I will cook for next Tuesday.

This is one of those recipes of Ma that I follow quite faithfully.

1 cup of dhuli masoor (red lentils)

1 onion, peeled and chopped fine

1 tomato, chopped fine

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 or 1 tablespoon of chopped green coriander

1/4 teaspoon each of the five spices that make up paanchphoron

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil

1 tablespoon of ghee (or a second one of oil)

Wash the daal thoroughly and soak in water for an hour or two (the daal can be cooked without soaking it beforehand and in this case it will usually need a little longer to cook).

Pressure cook the daal with salt till the grains are quite soft and well-blended. Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder and mix it in well.

In the meanwhile, heat the oil plus the ghee in a frying pan. Add the paanchphoron as described here and when the seeds begin to crackle, add the onions and fry till they begin to turn a dark-ish brown. Add the tomatoes next, and cook till they are quite soft; by this time the oil will begin to appear a little on the sides of the mixture. Mix in the green coriander now, fry everything together for 1/2 a minute, then add this mixture to the daal and simmer it for 5-6 minutes.

The daal can of course be tempered with only cumin seeds, or with cumin seeds and mustard seeds, instead of with paanchphoran and the green coriander is an extra too. But the latter two ingredients together spell magic here 🙂

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Sabut Moong ki Daal

This is a delicious daal, made with whole green mung beans. I don’t make it too often, but one that I’d want should stay in the girls’ memories as they grow up, go away and set up kitchens of their own, since it is so nutritious.

So as I made it for dinner tonight, I thought I must include the recipe here.

Like chana daal, this is especially nice with a touch of lime juice.

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A Very Simple Masoor Daal

Like varan, this is such a convenient and quick way to cook daal.

I had always made red lentils with onions and tomatoes fried in a tadka of either cumin seeds or paanchphoran.  But ever since I watched Radhesh make this daal a few months ago, when she tempered it very simply with only cumin seeds, curry leaves and whole red chilli, I have made it like that more than once. Cooked this way, it has a simple, delicious and wholesome flavor.

Masoor Daal

1 cup of masoor daal (red lentils), washed and soaked for an hour or two

1 and a1/2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric

7-8 curry leaves

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1 (or half of one) whole, dried red chilli broken in two

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil or ghee

Pressure cook the daal in 3 cups of water, with the salt added in, till it is quite soft.

When the cooker can be opened, add the turmeric and blend the grains well with a hand-churner.

Heat the oil in a small pan, then add the cumin seeds and the red chilli. When the cumin seeds start to crackle, add the curry leaves. After a few seconds, add this tempering to the daal, mix in some boiled water if the daal seems too thick and simmer everything together for 5-6 minutes.

Again, like varan, this is just wonderful to eat on a cold winter evening like tonight.

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My Favorite Daal – Chana Daal with Lauki(Bottle Gourd) or Courgette

I tend to eat this daal (yellow split peas) from a bowl like one would eat soup, with a touch of  lime juice though it very nice with phulkas or paranthas too. It has a really  hearty taste and is quite filling.  My Ma usually tempers it with paanchphoran, which somehow suits this daal, IMO.

She often cooks it with bottle gourd (lauki) added to it, which I substitute with courgette since that Indian vegetable is not easy to find here.

And though I made it yesterday with the skin of the courgette peeled off, since the girls eat it more easily that way, it is probably better to retain the skin since that likely has a lot of nutrients.

I also usually make more of this daal than we need for one meal because the leftover portion, mixed with whole wheat flour, makes the dough for really soft and full-of-taste phulkas/paranthas the next day.

Chana Daal with Lauki or Courgette

1 cup of chana daal (yellow split pea lentils)

1 large or two small onions, chopped fine

1 medium sized or two small tomatoes, chopped fine

1/2  a teaspoon of grated ginger or ginger paste

1/2 a teaspoon (and perhaps a pinch more) of turmeric powder

1 courgette (300-400 grams), washed, peeled or preferably with the skin and diced in to chunks (neither too large nor too small)

salt (2 teaspoons or to taste)

2-3 tablespoons of sunflower oil

Also, ideally, 1 tablespoon of finely chopped coriander leaves

Soak the lentils for a couple of hours, then drain the water in which they were soaked and pressure cook with another three cups of water and salt till quite soft. This will probably need 6 to 8 whistles (if the pressure cooker is the Indian variety).

Remove the cooker off the hob and when all the steam has been released from the cooker, open the lid, stir the daal with a large spoon or ladle to break up the grains, then add the courgette and cook the mixture again -another couple of whistles should do it.

When the cooker is ready to be opened again add the turmeric and stir everything together gently so as not to smash the courgette pieces.

In the meanwhile, in a smaller frying pan, prepare the tadka. Heat the oil, then add paanchphoron.

As all the five spices of  paanchphoron begin to crackle, add the onions and fry till they are golden brown. Add the ginger paste/grated ginger next and fry for another 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes and fry till the oil starts to appear on the sides. Now add the chopped coriander and mix everything well before adding this tadka to the daal in the cooker.

If the daal seems too thick then add a little boiled water (and salt, if needed). To finish, simmer the daal for a few minutes so that the tadka blends in well.

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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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Daal with vegetables

This is a recipe that evolved from the daals and khichris I used to cook for the girls when they were babies.

The format was usually the same – a couple of vegetables (one green, the other red or yellow) fried with some onion,garlic, sometimes ginger, and tomato, and then cooked together with one of the yellow daals. For a khichri I added rice to that combination.

Of the various combinations I cooked together then, the one I have continued to make over the years is of red lentils (masoor) cooked with spinach and squash/pumpkin.

This is one the girls eat without demur, and the leftover portion is very useful for making dough for puris and paranthas that are full of taste.

I also like the idea that I don’t have to cook a subzi separately, when I cook this daal for a meal,since there is a decent amount of vegetables in the daal.  So yesterday, when I made this daal for dinner, I made only some plain rice and peanut raita to go with it.

Daal with Vegetables

1 cup of masoor (red lentils), washed, and soaked for an hour or two

75-100 gms of very finely chopped fresh or frozen spinach

100-150 gms of finely diced pumpkin/butternut squash (or 2 medium sized carrots)

1 large tomato, finely chopped

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated

1/2 tsp of cumin seeds

1/2 tsp of turmeric powder

1/2 tsp of coriander powder

1/2 tsp of garam masala (optional)

salt to taste

3 tbsp of sunflower oil

In a pressure cooker, heat the oil, add the cumin seeds, and fry the onion till it starts to turn a golden color. Add the garlic and the pumkpin, and fry till the onions start to turn brown and pumpkin starts to look quite soft.

Add the tomatoes, and fry till they are soft. Now add the spices, and fry for a couple of seconds.

Add the spinach and the salt, and fry for 3-4 minutes. Now add the daal, 3-4 cups of water, mix everything thoroughly and pressure cook  for 7-8 minutes, or till the vegetables are quite soft.

Add a little boiled water to thin the daal, if it seems to thick, and a tsp of ghee for flavor, if you like.

If you plan to make puris or paranthas with the leftover portion, do thicken the daal over heat first, else you’ll end up using too much flour to knead the dough.

let me know if you try/like this, since this recipe is truly my own 🙂

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Khatti-Meethi Daal

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.

Khatti-Meethi Daal

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 🙂

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