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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Three-way Daal

No Indian meal is ever complete without daal.  This is an undisputed fact (in my house anyway).  Dal holds a precious place in my heart and stomach.  It is great as a side, a whole meal, hot, warm, cold, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  It's true!  Sambar is pretty much daal and it is mostly eaten in the morning with idlis or dosas.  I love it not only because of it's varieties of participants along with their different tastes and textures, but also for all the nutritional power the little beans contain.  I ate a bowl of this dal for breakfast one morning and an hour later I wanted to make an obstacle course, run through it, and do push ups to no end.  Unfortunately I was at the office when this urge crept up on me, so I had to contain my energy and focus on my current projet.
This dal is a nice spin on an ordinary dal (does that even exist?  any dal I've ever made has been extraordinary) because of the blend.  It's like having 3 recipes in one!  The toor dal stays firm and gives texture to the dish.  It is also the most vegetable tasting dal.. probably because they are split peas and not really lentils.  For me, the toor dal stimulates the sides of my mouth.  The split urad dal becomes creamy and almost melts.  The urad stimulates the center of my tongue.  The split mung has a more subtle flavor, but provides the energy in the dish.  These stimulate my throat.  The mung is also essential to my diet because it balances out all the heat I take in through chiles.
I don't know how to explain, but each and every dal is appealing to a certain part of my mouth, tongue, throat, or stomach.  Sometimes the happy euphoric feeling happens as I am eating, other times it's 30 minutes later.  Either way, there is always some sort of euphoria associated with eating daal.. which is why it is always an integral part of my Indian works of art.
Serves 6-8
1/3 cup split mung, unhusked, rinsed thoroughly
1/3 cup toor dal, rinsed thoroughly
1/3 cup split urad dal, unhusked, rinsed thoroughly
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 Tbsp oil
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 pinch hing (asafoetida)
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chile powder
tadka seasoning:
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 pinch hing (asafoetida)
1 sprig curry leaves
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 slit green chile
squeeze of lime
chopped cilantro
1.  Simmer the different daals in the water with the bay leaf and salt until almost tender, about 15 minutes.
2.  Heat the oil in a wok and add the turmeric and hing until they fizz, then add the onion and cook until soft.
3.  Add the cumin powder, garam masala, and chile powder an stir evenly.  Add this mixture to the simmering daal and cook for 5 minutes more or until tender.
4.  Make the tadka seasoning.  The the oil in a wok and add the cumin and mustard seeds until they sputter.  You should have this down to a science by now if you are a regular reader.
5.  Add the hing until it fizzes, then add the curry leaves, garlic, ginger, and green chile.  Cook, stirring until the raw aroma disappears, then add this seasoning to the simmering daal and stir.
6.  Let simmer a few more minutes, then remove from heat until ready to serve.

Garnish with a squeeze of lime and some chopped cilantro (which I didn't have this time).
I served it many ways.. one of which was in a thali with some Punjabi Chicken Curry and Paneer Korma.
I don't know which way I liked it best.  Each and every time I have daal leftovers, it is a distinct experience..

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