At The Cinnamon Club this month we are delighted to be paying a tribute to Roald Dahl. 2016 marks 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl – the world’s number one storyteller, and so we have a special Dahl Menu running all month! Find out more here.
I’m sharing with you India’s every day dahl, compared to black lentils, which is more for special occasions and tends to be cooked in restaurants rather than home.
In most households the lentils would be served quite thin and watery, simply boiled and tempered with spices. The process of adding spices crackling in hot fat to cooked dahl is commonly known as tadka, hence the name of the dish.
The flavours and spices vary from region to region. In Rajasthan, they would simply use asafoetida, cumin and chilli, in the Punjab garlic, onion and tomatoes are added, while in southern India it’s common to see lentils tempered with curry leaves, chillies and mustard seeds. The options and flavour combinations are endless.
- 100g / ½ cup masoor dahl (red lentils), washed
- 100g / ½ moong dahl (split yellow mung beans), washed
- 1.2 litres water
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 2 whole dried red chillies
- Pinch of asafoetida (heeng)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tomato, medium sized, finely chopped
- 1 inch ginger, scraped and chopped
- 2 green chillies, chopped
- 1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
- Juice from ½ lemon
Wash the lentils in running cold water, and then drain well. Put them in a pan with the water, turmeric and salt, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 3-40 minutes, until they are so thoroughly disintegrated that you cannot tell the different lentils apart. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan; add the whole red chillies, asafoetida, and cumin seeds and allow then to crackle, add the garlic wait and for it to turn golden brown, add the onions and sauté over moderate heat.
Add the red chilli powder, sauté for a minute or two. Add the tomato and cook for 5-6 minutes over moderate heat and throw in ginger, green chillies coriander leaves and pour the mix over the lentils. Adjust the seasoning and finish with lemon juice.
Tip: In some parts of the country, as many as 5 different types of lentils are used. You could use as many different types as you could find, just make sure that most of them have their husk removed as otherwise it changes the colour of the final dish.