Arhar ki Dal or Dal Tadka (Yellow Split Pigeon Peas Curry)


Dalicious so nutritious…

Dal or lentils is the staple food in every Indian home.  Dal is the only thing that bypasses every social and religious divide in India. It is relished by the rich and the poor, the Hindus and the Muslims. It would be safe to say dal is the National Dish of India. Ha! and you thought it was ‘Butter Chicken’. Dal is India’s comfort food, one of the healthy dishes in an otherwise red hot-chilly pepper Indian diet.

Today’s focus is Arhar ki dal or Toor dal. This lentil curry signifies so much in my life. Simple yet delicious, it is more than just comfort food. Everytime I visit my family in India, I know I can expect one of these three dal varities on the menu – Rajma (Red Kidney Bean Stew), Dal Makhni (Black Dal) or Arhar ki Dal and I am the most happy when it is Arhar ki dal. OK! I will have to come out and say it today that Arhar ki Dal is my favourite. This dish evokes some of the fondest memories of eating dinner with my family (which now happens once or twice a year when I go to India or when they visit me), teasing my baby brother, making faces at him because his favourite dal (which is Dal Makhni) wasn’t made and he was forced to eat my favourite and sharing stories about our day at work and school. Oh I could go on forever about  home, my family and the link between food and memories. Later I should dedicate a whole post to it but for now back to Arhar ki Dal.

Arhar ki dal is one of the unsung heroes  of the Indian cuisine. Available at most Indian Restaurants as ‘Dal Tadka’, ‘Dal Fry’ or ‘Yellow Dal’, Arhar ki dal never really garners the glory it truly deserves and why would it! Restaurants make everything taste so flash. The whole point of Arhar ki dal is that it meant to give you a taste of home, which only comes when you cook with love at home. Similarly many of you would have heard of the famous South Indian delicacy called Sambar. Again, Arhar ki dal is what makes Sambar but seldom receives the much deserved accolades.

My mission today is to not only spread the love, encourage you to cook at home, but also to show you how easy and quick this dal is to make. It is equally satisfying, I will go so far to say it is as satisfying as a Sunday roast and has less than half the calories!

Usually it is quicker to make dals if you have a pressure cooker. If you don’t have one, the best thing to do is soak the dal for a few hours. As such the split lentil variety does not need to be soaked much. However when using a normal saucepan, soaking it definitely helps cook the dal faster. Without further adolets get started.

Ingredients: 9   Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4
  • Two cups of Arhar dal (yellow pigeon pea lentils)
  • Six cups of water
  • One tablespoon of ghee
  • Two teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • One teaspoon of dried coriander powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes
  • Two tablespoons lemon juice
  • Two tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • Salt to taste

Boil two cups of dal with about six cups of water. When using a pressure cooker boil the dal on medium heat and give it five to six whistles. The consistency should not be too thick, neither too thin so add water to dilute or boil further to reduce as required. Once the lentils are ready add salt to taste, lemon juice and keep aside.

For a good dal you need a great tadka! Tadka or Chaukh is called ‘Tempering in English’. Tempering is a process used for flavoring certain dishes. To temper a dish, oil or ghee is heated and spices added to it and fried. This spice flavoured oil is then added to the dish as a final touch.

Now lets prepare the tadka – In a pan add one tablespoon of ghee and let it melt. Once the ghee is hot add the cumin seeds and chilli flakes and let them splutter. Now add coriander powder and fresh chopped coriander. Give the tadka a good mix and add it to your dal.

BOOM….DONE!!! Your lip smackingly delicious Arhar ki dal is now ready to eat. You can garnish it with some fresh coriander and serve it with some plain rice, sliced red onion, pickle and natural yogurt.

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3 Comments

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