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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dal Fry - Seasoned Lentil Soup

I must start by acknowleding the long gap between the last post and this one. And for those of you who read the blog regularly, I owe an explanation. Generally, I write about only food related topics on this blog, however since the explanation is non food related, here goes. For the longest time I have tried to stay away from synchronizing my email account to my phone and hence had to long in daily to check and respond to emails. And usually after I did that, I used to start my next blog post. However, between the last blog and this, I finally caved in and added my email account to my phone. Since then, I have noticed a significant impact on the amount of time I spend on my computer. I have become more of a consumer of information rather than producing it and I didn't even realize it. Have any of you faced the same issue? Are you spending a lot more time away from your computer and on your smart phone (for non-office related activities)?

Well, now that you know the reason for my absence, I hope you will take some heart in the knowledge that I have made a conscious decision to attend to my blog more regularly. With that said, let me dive into the absolutely delicious recipe for making "dal fry" which is made from lentils and has a spicy seasoning. It is one of the most versatile recipes and I will be posting many different versions of the same in the future as well. The following is one I make most regularly and the dal goes well with rotis or rice.

1 cup split pigeon peas/tur dal
2 cups water
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
A pinch of hing/asafoetida powder
1 tbsp oil
1/8 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tsp mustard seeds
1 red onion, finely diced
1 tomato, finely diced
1-3 green chillies, to taste
1 tsp garam masala (optional)
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
some cilantro/corriander for garnish
salt to taste
additional water to thin out the dal

Mix together the tur dal, water, hing and turmeric and cook it. I generally use the pressure cooker  to cook the dal (see tips for how to cook the dal if you don't have a pressure cooker). Cook it for 5-6 whistles or in the Instant Pot for 12 minutes on manual mode at high pressure. Let the pressure release naturally. Once cooked, mash the dal a little with a spoon and keep aside. In a deep pan, heat some oil. Then add the mustard and cumin seeds. Once they start to crackle, add the chillies, onions and ginger garlic paste. Cook this till the onions start to brown and the raw ginger garlic smell goes away. Then add the tomatoes and cook them well. Then add the garam masala and fry for a couple of minutes till you can smell the aroma of the masala. Now, add the dal and mix well. Add some water if the dal is too thick. Generally, dal fry is thicker dal (similar to creamy  soups) and not very watery. Add salt. Bring it to a boil and turn off the heat. Sprinkle some cilantro for garnish. Serve hot with rice, pulao or roti.

If you don't  have a pressure cooker, this is how you can cook the dal without having to boil it for hours. Soak the dal for an hour in warm water. Then in a deep pan, boil the dal with at least two times the water, turmeric and hing. Stir occasionally, so that the dal at the bottom of the pan doesn't burn. Turn off the heat when the dal is cooked through, soft and can be easily mashed (about 30-40 minutes) . Add a squirt of lemon/lime juice to the dal for a tangier taste.
You can use the same method and ingredients to make dal fry using chana dal (yellow split peas). 


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