When it comes down to the absolute basics, there is nothing like Daal- Chawal (rice) and the glow of comfort it spreads.
On many evenings we make a full dinner of just that and call it a night. Wholesome daal provides protein and rice, just completes the meal.
When possible however, I like to bring in a small variation to the daal. A few ago, when I was ( and still am) hooked to 660 Curries, I made this dazzling daal and since then, this is a regular on the dinner table at least once a week, usually on a Thursday night when M comes home.
What attracted me to this daal is that it is a Gujarati preparation and that is by itself a testimonial. Also that it uses Moong and Chana daal, my new favorites.
Gujarati food is full of tantalizing flavors that combine hot and sweet at the same time. In my college days we would often go to a friend, who was a Gujuben (as we fondly called her) and beg of 'Maharaj' (the chef) to cook up something. He would make daal - rice & soft muslin-cloth-thin rotlis (roti/ bread) smeared generously with ghee and shaak (vegetable).
A simple meal but Maharaj had magic in his fingers, it seemed that he only had to touch an ingredient to make it tasty. The ghee tadka (tempering) for the daal would sizzle and perfume the kitchen and dining area and 10 girls, hungry as hunters would jostle one another to wash their hands and rush to the dining table. We would watch with admiration as he rolled one rotli after another, pace never varying, his hands working in perfect unison as he rolled, roasted and smeared ghee, it was like music, flowing , harmonious and above all satisfying.
This daal made me think of Maharaj and how perfect this recipe is, it was like I had some magic in my fingers... the ingredients are simple , the process uncomplicated and the taste - SUPERB!
My Mother also made this recipe ( I dictated the entire thing over the phone, thanks to Vonage World calling plan!) and urged her to try it ASAP. My Father who is a Gujarati food fan fell in love with the daal !
Source: 660 Curries
1/2 Cup Moong Daal
1/4 Cup Chana Daal
2 Tbs Ghee (or oil)*
*Ghee is a preferable option
1Tsp Mustard seeds
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tsp Cayenne
1/2 tsp Asafetida
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 can (14.5 oz) Diced Tomatoes
1/4 Cup crumbled /chopped Jaggery or packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh Cilantro
10-15 Fresh Curry leaves
Wash the lentils in 3-4 changes of water. Pressure cook the lentils until they are soft ( Iyer mentions the stove top method for cooking the lentils which take about 35-40 mins, however I speed up my work and like the zero attendance method,by using the pressure cooker)
While the lentils are cooking ( in my case, while the pressure is subsiding), heat ghee in a skillet.
Add mustard seeds, after the mustard seeds have popped, remove the skillet from heat and sprinkle with Cumin seeds, salt, cayenne, asafetida and turmeric. The spices will instantly sizzle and smell aromatic. Immediately add the tomatoes with the juices, jaggery, cilantro and curry leaves.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat and simmer uncovered stirring occasionally, until ghee separates ( about 5 min)
When the legumes are cooked, coarsely mash the lentils and some of the peas with the back of the spoon and create a creamy yellow base for the curry.
Stir the sauce, cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the seasonings permeate the curry (5 mins). Serve hot.
This curry tastes great with rotlis as well.
I keep the curry chunky. Usually I puree half of the cooked daal with an immersion blender and keep the rest as is to yield a thick curry, this is a personal preference, I like biting into daal.
Wishing all readers a HAPPY and SPLENDID NEW YEAR!!!! See you then!