Deepa Mehrotra and her husband Ashish Mehrotra believe serving food pleasingly adds extra flavour to a meal.
After all, they feel, one "eats with the eyes."
The couple takes a delicious and simple comfort meal like Dal-Chaval and elevates it to a gourmet offering with plating technique and a few surprise ingredients.
- ¾ cup toor dal or pigeon peas
- ¼ cup yellow mung dal
- 1 tsp haldi or turmeric powder
- 3 tbsp desi ghee
- 1 tsp jeera or cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp hing or asefoetida
- ½ tsp lal mirch or red chilly powder
- 5-7 curry leaves
- Jaggery powder, to taste
- 8-10 thinly sliced sticks of ginger
- ½ tsp amchur or dried mango powder
- Salt, to taste
- 1 cup uncooked rice, ideally basmati
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced, length-wise
- Oil, for frying the onion
- Handful green dhania or coriander or cilantro leaves, chopped
- Wash and then soak both dals for 15-30 minutes.
In a pressure cooker, add the drained dals, salt, haldi and water.
Boil over high heat for 3-4 whistles.
Take off heat, cool and open lid.
- In a large kadhai or frying pan saute the jeera, hing for 30 seconds in the ghee.
Add the red chilly powder, curry leaves and mix well.
Then add the dal from the pressure cooker into the kadhai, mix well and add water as required.
Let it simmer for 1-2 minutes and then add the jaggery, aamchur, ginger.
Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes more and take off heat.
- In a small frying pan, fry the sliced onion in a little oil over low heat till crispy.
- Cook the rice over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan of boiling water for 15-25 minutes depending on the quality of the rice and drain.
- Serve the dal-rice in a deep kind of plate, like a pasta plate or an entree plate.
Fill a medium bowl or a large katori with the cooked rice and press and pack the rice in lightly using your fingers.
Overturn the rice bowl into the deep plate.
Ladle the dal, using a large serving spoon or karchli or ladle around the rice that was placed in the deep plate, slowly, without disturbing the rice.
- Sprinkle the fried onions as garnish over the rice and finally the chopped dhania over the dal.
Serve with a roasted papad, glass of chaas or buttermilk or a small bowl of dahi or yoghurt and a spoonful of lemon pickle, preferably homemade.
Note: Rice is off the menu if following a diabetic diet or low-carb diet. Opt for lightly-cooked quinoa as a treat -- it goes well with a home-style dal.
A quick non-vegetarian addition to the meal could be prawn or fish pickle.