The humble Indian dal has found itself in Lonely Planet's Ultimate Eatlist. Here are some exciting dal recipes you can try.
'Dal sounds a tard dull to many who maintain a somewhat touch-and-go relationship with this nutritious food,' write Salma Husain and Vijay Thukral in their book Pull of Pulses: Full of Beans, published by Niyogi Books.
'In fact, it is so much a part of the Indian staple diet and a common food item in most Indian homes that an age-old Hindi idiom draws a parallel between home-reared poultry (and other common household items and property) and the daily homemade dose of the plain, ordinary and somewhat 'boring' dal -- Ghar ki murgi daal barabar,' they add.
'One doesn't seem to notice the inherent richness of taste and the gentle goodness in every ladleful, or relish the comforting flavour of dal at a home-cooked meal. The dal at home is not an exotic dish, is comfort food for the family and therefore taken for granted.'
We bring you three dal-inspired recipes from the book.
Photographs: Courtesy Niyogi Books
Lentil and Spinach Lasagna
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 brown onions, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 1 small green capsicum, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 cups tomatoes, diced
- 2/3 cup (160 gm) Egyptian lentil
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch spinach, washed and chopped
- 250 gm dried lasagna pasta sheets
For the topping:
- 1 cup skimmed milk
- 1 1/2 tsp plain flour
- A pinch of nutmeg powder
- 2 cups (500 gm) low-fat cottage cheese
- 3 tbsp (45 gm) low-fat vintage cheddar cheese, grated
- Grease a large saucepan with oil and heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and capsicum, and cook, stirring occasionally.
- Add the garlic, tomatoes, lentils and stock. Bring to boil.
- Simmer till the lentils are soft. Remove from heat.
- Stir in the basil and spinach.
- Make toppings. Whisk and smoothen 2 tbsp of milk and flour in a saucepan.
- Stir in the remaining milk. Place over low heat, stirring for five minutes. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 6 cm deep, 26 cm x 32 cm (base) baking dish. Spread a spoonful of lentil, then sauce. Cover with one layer pasta, half lentil and sauce. Repeat, finishing with pasta.
- Stir cottage cheese into topping. Spread over lasagna. Sprinkle with cheddar.
- Bake the dish, uncovered, for an hour.
- Stand for 10 minutes. Serve.
Murgh Dhansak (Lentils with vegetables and chicken)
- 1 cup mixed lentils
- 500 gm chicken pieces, skinned and cut into bite-sized cubes
- 50 gm brinjal, cut into cubes
- 50 gm red pumpkin, cut into cubes
- 50 gm potatoes, cut into cubes
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 piece cinnamon
- 6 cloves
- 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 7 baby peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 star anise
- 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1/4 nutmeg, grated
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 dry red chillies
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 bunch mint leaves
- 1 large bunch coriander leaves
- 1 large bunch fenugreek leaves
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- Salt to taste
- Wash and clean the lentils thoroughly.
- Pour cold water in a pan and put the lentils in it. Add salt and turmeric powder.
- Boil the lentils for 10 minutes. Remove any scum that accumulates on the top of the pan.
- Add chicken stock, vegetables and salt.
- Boil for about 10 minutes till the vegetables and lentils turn soft.
- Whisk the lentils nicely to achieve a soup-like consistency.
- Add little water in case the water in the dish dries up.
Khandvi Chashni Daar
- 1 cup flour of yellow lentils, skinned
- 2 cups yoghurt, hung and whisked
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tbsp ghee, desi
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp clove powder
- 1/4 tsp cardamon powder
- 1/2 tsp peppercorn, freshly ground
- Mix lentil flour with three cups of water.
- Heat ghee in a pan, pour lentil batter and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring continuously to avoid lump formation.
- Remove from heat when mixture is of thick consistency.
- Spread lentil batter in a flat tray evenly and let it cool to set. The layer should be thin and not too thick.
- Cut set lentils into diamond shapes pieces.
- Make one string sugar syrup with 1/2 kg sugar and 2 cups of water.
- Pour sugar syrup over prepared khandvi and serve.
(*This feature was originally published on June 13, 2018.)
Excerpted from Pull Of Pulses: Full Of Beans by Salma Husain and Vijay Thukral, with the permission of the publishers, Niyogi Books.