Dahl, dal, daal, dail

It’s well into autumn now, soon be winter, and it’s just the time for comfort food… and what better than dahl, dal, daal, dail etc.? Dahl is an Indian word for pulses such as lentils, beans, split peas etc, and the dishes made from the various different sorts of  lentils, beans, split peas etc, are many and varied.

I somehow came across a variety of dahl called toor dal; it’s an orangey yellow colour, and slightly oily (I thought it was a characteristic of the dahl, but apparently it’s added when it’s being processed… or so I’ve heard!) … and from that to a delicious recipe… just right for the middle of November:

  • 1 cup toor dahl (or  yellow split peas – toor dahl is best because it’s slightly oily)
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • pinch of salt (or to taste)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 pinch kalonji (nigella)
  • 1 tablespoon oil or ghee or butter (not traditional I know, but I like the flavour)
  • 2 red chillies, or one dried red chilli (or less if you don’t want it too hot)
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds ( or more to taste)
  • 3 garlic cloves (more or less!)
  1. cook the dahl with the turmeric, until it’s soft – about 40 mins – strain but  keep the cooking water
  2. mash the dahl
  3. fry the garlic, kalonji, chilli and cumin very carefully until they are aromatic (if you accidentally burn them, throw them away, wipe the pan and start again
  4. add the dahl and a little cooking water, cooking very gently so it doesn’t stick to the pan
  5. add the sugar, and salt to taste
  6.  it’s ready when everything is mixed in and at the  consistency you like – it should be lovely and smooth, soft and definitely not too wet
  7. add the lemon juice before you eat it (it’s traditionally eaten cold, but it’s nice when it’s still warm)
  8. serve as a side dish to curry, or as a light meal with crusty bread or chappatis

Apparently toor dahl is also called  – and maybe more commonly called, pigeon peas… and also known as tropical green peas, gungo peas, arhar, red gram, and gandule beans.





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