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A preparation of pulses (dried lentils, peas or beans), dal is a regular accompaniment with Indian meals. Dal recipes of varieties such as toor, chana, moong or masoor.

Khatti Meethi Masoor Dal: Red Lentil with Tamarind and Dates

25 Nov

I came across Nigella’s recipe for Lentil Tamarind and Date Dhansak last week, which prompted an internal conversation with the self.

Dal without salt? Did the ingredient list miss that by accident or is this dish really meant to have no salt?

Well, moong dal halwa is dal without salt, and that’s the finest dessert ever.

But there’s garlic-infused oil and tamarind in this recipe – no dessert worth its er…salt…has garlic.

Who said this is a dessert?

Guesswork much? Just follow the recipe and find out for sure.

So I did follow the recipe, with a couple of tiny adaptations. I ended up with an unusual, rich and tangy dal, the taste of which grew on me with each spoonful.

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Quick Weeknight Dinners with 3 Make-Ahead Food Parts

31 Aug

Weekdays are busy times for many of us who come back from work late evening and then fix a meal. We want weeknight dinners to be easy to put together, taking little time to move from kitchen to plate. [Not counting the blessed few like Rohit’s boss with the gusto to whip up a fancy meal at that hour ;-)]

One could cook loads on Sunday and freeze for the week. But that’s not so exciting, is it? So how does one reach that elusive balance between easy+quick (pre-cooked) and tasty+interesting (freshly cooked)?

Here’s a middle ground.

Make-ahead food parts. Mix and match. Embellish.

Use the Pareto Principle to your advantage: identify the steps in cooking that consume a majority time and labor, and do them beforehand. The chopping of greens. The slow-frying of spices. The boiling of dal. When the time comes to make your weeknight dinner, all that remains to be done is the remaining 20% of cooking that produces 80% of the result.

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Palak Toor Dal: Spinach with Lentils

22 Jun

Palak toor dal (spinach with yellow pigeon pea lentils) has everything your nutritionist would give the nod to – and your palate would agree. Proteins, minerals, iron, and great taste!

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Masala Chana Dal: Bengal Gram Lentil Curry

13 Sep

Chana dal (Bengal gram lentils) in a gloriously spiced curry, the kind one describes with epithets like "meal fit for a king".

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Raw Moong Dal Salad

10 Mar

My first taste of kosambari was at a friend’s wedding in Karnataka. One spoonful and I was sold. That soaked moong dal could be eaten uncooked – and that it could be delicious – was a revelation. Since then I’ve been experimenting with salad made of split pulses and an assortment of vegetables. (more…)

Masoor Dal Tadka

28 Jan

Masoor dal – the salmon-pink, hulled lentil – is a quick-cooking dal that needs neither prior soaking nor laborious cooking. My masoor dal tadka recipe rides on the pliability of masoor and has the dish ready to serve in a matter of minutes.

In case you’re wondering, tadka is the process of tempering spices in hot oil and pouring them along with the oil into a dish. I use ghee for tadka in this recipe, I love  the body and aroma that ghee adds to the earthy flavor of masoor dal. (more…)

Nenua Chana: Sponge Gourd with Chana Dal

21 Nov

Confession time: I had to Google "nenua in English" for this post. I learnt that the vegetable is called sponge gourd: the name comes from the fact that the fibrous core of the gourd is dried and used as a sponge/loofah. Not surprisingly, the Latin name of sponge gourd is Luffa cylindra.

Be that as it may, it feels stilted to call the very Bihari nenua "sponge gourd" especially since I’m blogging about a very Bihari recipe. I’ll continue calling it nenua in this post.

Gourds pair well with dal, as in the lovely ridge gourd moong dal. Nenua chana is another case in point. This is a very uncomplicated recipe with few ingredients, the perfect kind for a new cook to test their skills on.

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