Monday, September 12, 2011

Gujarati dal/ Split Pigeon Lentil soup

Alright, so certain things don't actually seem right when you translate them. Calling Dal( da-al) a lentil soup doesn't roll off the tongue that easy but it might make things a little clearer for you. Thats why you get a little lesson on what Dal really isDal is staple in the South east Asian cuisine. Its basically a lentil soup that is eaten with Roti or rice. Each region has a favourite dal dish. Northern India has Dal Makhani, South India has Sambhar and Western India has their famous sweet and tangy Gujarati Dal. Since India is primarily a vegetarian country, Dal is the best source of proteins for us and hence cooked almost everyday in houses.



I live in Gujarat and like they say, when in Gujarat, do as the Gujaratis do and eat as the Guajratis eat. Their meals mostly consist of what they call Dal, Bhaat, Shaak and Rotli which translates to Dal, Rice, Veggies and Roti or the Indian Flat bread. This makes a perfectly balanced meal. But coming back to Guajrati Dal that has been a favourite of mine ever since I can remember. My mom used to make a Punjabi version of this (which wasn't doing any justice to my Guajrati taste-buds.), since we are after all punjabis, and it took quite a few trials and errors and talking to a lot of my gujarati friends for me to get this recipe absolutely right down to the last ingredient.

So here it goes.

You'll need

2 cups split pigeon or Tuvar or toor dal (yes we even have different pronunciations for it in India)
1 large tomato
1 cup Jaggery
Juice of 2 lemons or 5-6 dried Kokum
handful of peanuts
3 green chillies (less if you don't want it too hot)
1 1/2" piece of ginger
1 tsp or less asafoetida
1 tsp Red chilli powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 dried whole red chillies
1 cinnamon stick 2" long
7-8 curry leaves
1/4 cup coriander leaves to garnish
2 tbsp oil
pinch of love

Method

Boil the split pegion/ tuvar dal, till it softens. . Add three times the water to the dal, and use a blender to make a smooth runny puree.



Chop up the tomatoes finely Add the chopped tomatoes to it. Add the Jaggery/ sugar and peanuts to it. Keep it on a low flame for about 3-4 minutes till the Jaggery has dissolved completely. Split the green chillies vertically and add. Also add the turmeric, red chilli powder and salt.



Add Kokum or you can use dry mango powder or lemon juice or even tamarind paste. We just want to make the dal tangy. And no, you can't use vinegar. Don't forget to add ginger here. I usually grate it but you could julienne it or  cut it up and add it. Increase the flame to high and bring to a boil. Keep stirring intermittently to see if the dal is sticking to the bottom. It shouldn't stick! Also squish the tomatoes with the back of your spoon as much as you can to soften them up quicker.



Now for tempering, take the oil in a small pan, add the curry leaves to it. Add asafoetida, red chillies, mustard seeds, cumin, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon stick and let it sizzle. The curry leaves burn pretty fast, don't let them. The red chillies darken a little, which is good for flavouring. The cumin should crackle and the mustard seeds splutter. Immediately add this to the dal. Stir the whole thing and combine well. Let it simmer for 15 mins. Your kitchen will be filled with a beautiful aroma. Add you pinch of love to make it even more yummy!
Give it a taste test. It should be a perfect balance of sweet and tangy and savoury. Garnish with Coriander leaves. I love a lot of them in my Dal but you can put as much or as little you like. Serve it piping hot with Rice or just drink it as it is. You'll love it!



* The Images for the recipe are just for reference for the ingredients and not step wise instructions. Please read the recipe carefully. 





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