Thursday, July 23, 2015

Classic Toor Dal - Everyday Indian Food

Lately, I've had quite a few people asking me for "Indian lentil recipes."  So I thought I'd write up our staple dal recipe that we eat at least once every few weeks.  Toor dal is Marathi for pigeon pea, a lovely member of the legume family.  The variety we make is yellow in color.  There are some things that I always love and never get sick of, and one of them is this recipe.  It's kind of like the American equivalent to mac and cheese, or the British equivalent to a jacket potato - comfort food all the way. 

Toor Dal
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients
2 cups thoroughly washed toor dal
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1 tbsp canola oil, vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Pinch hing (asafoetida)
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
6 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
5 cups of water
Juice of 1 lime or lemon
1 handful of cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Directions - Indian style pressure cooker 
*Please only use this method if your pressure cooker is safe to use to cook beans/lentils/legumes.  Check your pressure cooker instruction manual for guidelines. 
1.  Soak toor dal in 5 cups of water for a few hours.  This step is not essential but it speeds up cooking times dramatically.
2.  Heat oil in the pressure cooker.
3.  Add mustard seeds and listen for them to start popping.  Then add cumin seeds and the pinch of hing.  Allow these spices to sizzle in the oil for a moment until they smell aromatic.
4.  Add the garlic.  Stir, allowing to cook without browning for 1 minute.
5.  Add tomatoes, turmeric powder, cayenne powder and salt.  Allow this entire mixture to cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes look slightly softened.
6.  Add the toor dal and all the water; stir.  Close the pressure cooker lid.  On a medium heat, cook and listen for 3 whistles.  Turn off. 
7.  Once the pressure has subsided, open lid, and add citrus juice and cilantro.  Taste for salt and sourness, which can be adjusted by adding more salt and more citrus. 

Directions - without pressure cooker
1.  Soak toor dal in 5 cups of water for a few hours.  This step is not essential but it speeds up cooking times dramatically.
2.  Combine toor dal, water, cayenne powder, turmeric powder and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.  Skim the froth that has risen to the top.  Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until toor dal is cooked.  During cooking, add water if necessary.  Do not cover the pot at any point.  Giving an estimate on time is difficult as toor dal can vary based on the variety/where it was grown etc.  It will probably take somewhere between 45 minutes and 2 hours.  When it is cooked, it will break apart, taking on a more creamy texture, and each piece can be very easily crushed with the back of a spoon.
3.  In a separate small pan, heat the oil.  
3.  Add mustard seeds and listen for them to start popping.  Then add cumin seeds and the pinch of hing.  Allow these spices to sizzle in the oil for a moment until they smell aromatic.
4.  Add the garlic.  Stir, allowing to cook without browning for 1 minute.
5.  Add tomatoes, turmeric powder, cayenne powder and salt.  Allow this entire mixture to cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. 
6.  Add this entire mixture to the pot with the dal in it, along with the citrus juice and cilantro.  Taste for salt and sourness, and adjust if necessary.

16 comments:

Riya Singh said...

Looking to yummy. Definitely I would like to try this weekend. Thanks for sharing.chinese restaurants in Satya niketan

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Yami B Y said...

I have this brand of toor dal of TRS here in UK. i soaked it in normal water overnight and trying to cook it on stove top to make a base for dal fry. Unfortunately, I don't have a pressure cooker here and it is taking more than 2hours for the toor dal to get soft! Is it the brand? Have i soaked it too long? Should it be soaked in hot water? Have you tried cooking dal in an oven? Is that easier and faster? Could I please get some tips!

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