Dal is the soulfood of India, prepared with different spices to accommodate the varied flavours around the nation. How ever it is made, there's something comforting about an amazing dal on a cold evening. Some nights my husband will come home from work, expecting a wonderfully elaborate meal, and more often that not, he will be pleasantly surprised, and other times all he'll see is a pot of lentils on the boil. Though when I serve the dal, as much as he may be disappointed, he always licks the bowl clean - tremendously satisfied by the warmth in his belly. My favourite way to inhale a bowl of dal is with a couple of dosa's or some basmati rice; accompanied with yogurt and drizzled with ghee. It's a staple in my home, and yet I totally dismissed putting on here, until a lovely friend asked for a 'healthy' recipe. I love that term 'healthy', because everyone assumes that I am 'healthy' but in reality I'm naughty like everyone else. Nonetheless, he asked for a recipe and whether or not I delivered on his expectations, I am unsure - but one thing is certain - he ignited an idea inside me. I am going to start a pulse recipe page for a little while. So for the next few weeks I will share some of my favourite legume &/or pulse recipes.
With this recipe, you can adjust the 'heat' as much as you like. This is the way I like my dal but adjust to your taste.
You will need...
* If you’re not used to consuming pulses you may find you get a little gassy or have abdo discomfort. The phytates and high levels of fibre cause the issue. If it bothers you, next time you make it, soak the lentils in water (to completely cover them) and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar (as a side note, it’s supposed to be a lactic acid of some sort – but acetic acid will do fine). Allow to soak for about an hour or two. Rinse really well and then use as normal. Soaking reduces the phytic acid content substantially which not only helps with gas, but ensures that that your body can absorb the other important minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium which would otherwise by inhibited. Traditionally lentils are consumed with yogurt (loaded with lactic acid and probiotics) and helps naturally alleviate tummy concerns….
*As lentils are not a complete protein source, if you want to get more bang for your buck, try mixing with rice or quinoa. I like mine with freshly made dosa (freakin’ heavenly!!) For a healthier alternative you can also try brown rice. Also, this meal is really delicious as a left over, and wrapped in roti bread with some paneer or haloumi, and slugged down with a mango lassi.
* Sometimes I add mouth sized morsels of sweet potato, potato, zucchini, cauliflower etc for extra oomph. In my experience, these are best added pre-steamed in the last couple of minutes of cooking rather than at the beginning as they tend to get too mushy and the lentils lose that gorgeous silky creamy finish. Plus, I enjoy tasting each individual vegetable.
*Completely optional – but makes all the difference in taste – is to get about 1-2tbsp ghee, melt it lightly add a pinch of cumin seeds and when they become aromatic and ‘pop’ add some chilli (any type you like), some crushed garlic. When the garlic has just started to brown, remove from heat and drizzle over the dal.