Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dal Tadka / Lentils with tempering

from my husband - The dal is a staple in the Indian diet and is made in various forms in various parts of the country. In its function, it is both nourishing and comforting. In character, it is democratic and nationally unifying. Its make-up varies in flavor from bland to severely spicy, in taste from tangy to sweet, in consistency from soup-like thin to gruel-like thick.
Here, we will take up a style of dal, supposedly the UP style. I say supposedly, because I am not absolutely sure in that I have never had this in UP, but my neighbors where I grew up, made it this way. They were from UP and their cuisine was unique - we were entreated to a whole new spread - Pulao, Chhole, Poori, Kachori, Sabzis, Curries, Dal, et al.
Use of ghee, hing, jeera, and not using onions and many more such specific methods seemed very different to us, more so, because our idea of anything north Indian was more Punjabi in nature with onion, tomato, garam masala, etc. Since they hailed from the UP heartland and were pure vegetarians, we took their cuisine to be representative of UP vegetarian from places like Aligarh, Moradabad, Bareilly, Mathura, Agra, Chandausi, and such, and distinctly not Mughlai or Awadhi.
Tuwar dal / split Pigeon peas - 1/2 cup
Tomato - 2
Coriander leaves - 5 to 6 sprigs
Turmeric pwd - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli pwd - 1 tbsp
for tempering
Ghee / Clarified butter - 1 tbsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Hing / Asafoetida - 2 pinches
Wash and soak the dal for an hour. Drain the dal and add 1 cup of water and pressure cook for 3 whistles.
In a pot / saucepan add 1/2 cup water and put it on heat. Chop tomatoes and add it into the pot with salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Cover with a lid and cook. Add the dal, coriander stalks and leaves and 1/2 cup water and cover and cook. Take off the heat when the dal and tomatoes have cooked and mixed together. Check for salt and add a little if required.

Heat a pan and add the ghee / clarified butter. When hot, add the jeera or cumin seeds and let them splutter and add hing or asafoetida and take off the heat. Pour this into the pot of dal and cover immediately with the lid. When ready to serve, mix the tadka / tempering into the dal and pour out into a bowl.
Lentil / dal is a very healthy food full of proteins and dietary fiber. This recipe for Dal Tadka uses tuwar dal which contains folic acid an essential vitamin for women especially during pregnancy.

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