Dal is one of those Indian meals, that is enjoyed the world over. I wish it was easy to categorize dals but there are so many types and variations that it is just not possible to. Within India itself the variations are so many, and each one just as delicious. Eaten by the rich and poor, these grains are a great source of protein and a must in a vegeterian diet. I remember, before I was married and living with my parents who are vegeterian, Dal was prepared practically everyday. Different pulses in different ways, some days a Gujurati style dal, some times Punjabi, and sometimes South Indian. And no matter which dal was there I’d always helped myself to an extra bowl. At the larger traditional family events, it was somehow a mainstay in the banquet, the comfortable, sturdy dish which we all relied on all the guests loving. I often used to dream of holding a food event myself, cooking for a large group for special day of their lives, helping to make it the most memorable for them possible. I would dream up the venue, the menu, the entertainment, and the seating arrangements with all- white furniture hire like in the movies.
So yesterday when a very dear friend who lives in UK asked me to put up something Vegan that she can make, preferably dal, I knew I had to make this one. My mum used to make us this dal and send it in our tiffin box when we were in school. Only she used to make us Chapatti’s or Rice with it, but now I love having it with crusty bread. Masoor Dal also known as Puy lentils are easily available all over and can be prepared really quickly. They are great when paired with meats, but exceedingly scrumptious even on its own. Like most Dals, this one is very easy to prepare as well. Calls for a basic Indian onion tomato gravy.
1 cup Masoor Dal / Puy Lentils
1 big onion finely chopped
1 large juicy tomato finely chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic smashed
1″ piece of ginger smashed or grated
1 green chilli chopped
1/4th tsp turmeric
1 tsp corriander powder
1/2 tsp Cumin powder
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
Salt to taste
Handful of fresh mint leaves
Soak the dal for about an hour. Boil it it softens but yet holds its shape. Set aside.
In a heavy bottom saucepan, take 2 tablespoons of oil. Fry the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli. When it begins to brown add the tomatoes and all the spices. Fry till the tomatoes have disintegrated and the oil begins to surface. Tip in the lentils along with any water that might be with it. Cook for another 10 mins till it all comes together.If you like a softer texture further ccook for 15 mins on low flame. Add the mint leaves and serve with some yogurt and rice/chapatti/bread.