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 🙂