Friday, November 19, 2010

Mom's Dal Inspired

Being in St. Louis without family, especially during the winter and finals time is extremely difficult. I only get to go home 1-2 times a semester. Aside from missing the usual niceties of home (shower, bed, friends, family, etc.) the thing that I miss the most is my mom's home cooking. The last time I was home, a few days before I was due to come back to St. Louis, my mom made this amazing dal that I will never forget for the rest of my life.
When I was younger, I never used to eat Indian food...I would beg and plead my mom for the chance to eat pasta, hamburgers, anything that wasn't mushy looking. However, as I've grown older, I've started to appreciate all the things my mom makes, and I've realized just how delicious home cooking is. 

Usually my mom buys mixed dal from the Indian store, but seeing as how the Indian store in St. Louis is quite far, I had to settle for organic lentils from Whole Foods. If you've got an international or even better, an Indian store, that'd be your best bet for finding the right kind of dal for this recipe. Any international store will be able to show you the different kinds of dal, but if you're stuck at a regular grocery store, the normal brown-ish lentils will do. I served it with butter and lavender basmati rice and garlic naan, but at home, my mom serves it with homemade wheat roti
My mom was trying to explain to me how to make this on the phone, and after about 8 minutes of listening to her trying to recap exactly what she does, I decided to just roll with it. After all, things are better when tinkered with. There are some other little odds and ends in my recipe and I'm sure my mom would think its blasphemy, but I think it adds a nice little touch! The other great thing about this recipe is that it's fairly low maintenance, healthy, flavorful, and totally vegetarian. One of my close friends is a vegetarian and challenged me to create one really great vegetarian recipe per month. So this is the first of the collection!
Mom's Mixed Dal
yields: 4-5 servings
now playing: Prep - Cut Copy: In Ghost Colours; Cook - The Octopus Project: Identification Parade; Eat - Punjabi MC: Indian Timing
now drinking: O'Fallon's 5 Day IPA (India Pale Ale)
inspired by Mom :) 

Ingredients for dal:
1/2 cup moong dal
1/2 cup chana dal
1/2 cup masoor dal
1/2 cup urad dal
1/2 onion diced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 clove garlic diced
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon red curry powder or chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
6 cups water

Ingredients for baghar temper (spices can be adjusted according to taste):
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons tumeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin (or 4 to 5 whole cumin seeds)

1 teaspoon garam masala 
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ onion diced
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 clove garlic diced
½ teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated preferably)
1 small can tomato puree
1 green chile (de-seeded and de-veined) thinly sliced

juice of half a lime

Mix all dals together and soak overnight or at least 4-5 hours. Strain and remove any rocks or pebbles.

1. Combine dal, diced onion, spices, garlic, and salt to taste in a large 4-qt sauce pot, and fill with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. 

2. While dal is boiling, heat two tablespoons oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat until butter is melted and oil is shimmering. Add chili and onions and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes. 

3. Once slightly caramelized, add all the spices and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Add tomato purée and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Add juice of half the lime.

4. By now, the dal should have absorbed most of the water. If not, strain dal, leaving only a little bit of water in the pot. The dal should be mushy, if not cook longer before adding the baghar. 

5. Add baghar temper to the pot with the dal and simmer, uncovered, for an additional 10-15 minutes, until mixed together and reduced. Add additional spices if necessary, if you like it more spicy, and add salt to taste. 

6. Remove from pot, serve with basmati rice, roti, or naan, and enjoy!

This was served with an IPA because it's crisp and hoppy to balance the spices and heat or the dal. This can also be served with a chardonnay or medium-bodied white wine, such as a white Bordeaux. 

1 comment:

  1. It was delicious! It had the perfect amount of chili powder and you could taste the sweet cinnamon as well. Bravo!