India has been predominantly a vegetarian country. As per UN FAO statistics India has lowest rate of meat consumption in world. I have often come across people who are very surprised and wonder how vegetarians fulfill protein requirement of their body. There are actually quite a lot of options for vegetarians (lacto-vegetarians have much more considering dairy products are also a rich source of protein). Beans, lentils, leafy greens, tofu are some examples of protein sources in vegetarian world.
Indians consider Lentils (dal) as an important part of their meal. Preparations that constitute lentils as an important ingredients are too many in Indian cuisine. In fact, if you are willing to be experimental you can make entire 3 course meal using lentils. To start with, we can make moong dal vada as an appetizer. Follow it up with dal-tadka, dal-khichdi, dal-makhani and many more preparations that can be served in Mains. Finally Dal halwa, payasam, besan ladoo make for a delicious dessert.
Different Indian cuisines have their very own dal preparations that they eat with great relish. North Indians make Dal-Tadka, Dal Makhani, palak ki dal, lauki-dal making use of toor dal (yellow lentil), masoor dal (pink lentils) and chana dal (Bengal gram). South Indian cuisine is incomplete without mentioning their signature dishes like idli-dosa and sambhar. These preparations are also made from urad dal (black gram), yellow and pink lentils. If we explore recipes from western part of India, we come across preparations like masoor dal amti, puran poli, gujarati dal that very proudly make use of lentils in these preparations. Each of these recipes is gems in their own right.
Last Tuesday, we made one of my favorite dal preparations ”Lakhnawi Khatti Dal” that I picked up from “Classic Indian cookery” written by Julie Sahni. Book itself is a fantastic read if you want to understand more about Indian cooking. This dal is made using masoor dal (pink lentils) and has a tangy taste due to the addition of tamarind to this preparation. It attains a smooth and velvety texture and has a thick consistency which makes it an ideal accompaniment for lazy Sunday afternoons when you want to get done with your cooking in jiffy. Enjoy eating this dal with steamed rice or jeera rice and head straight for bedroom after your lunch for your Sunday afternoon long naps.
- 200gms Pink lentils (Masoor dal)
- 10-12 cloves of garlic
- 1.5 inches ginger root
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp black cumin seeds (shahi jeera)
- 1 inch diameter tamarind ball
- Cooking Oil
- Wash pink lentils under running water until water runs clear
- Take 1 liter water in a large pan. Add washed lentils to the pan.
- Now add turmeric powder, grated ginger to the pan. Allow the lentils to boil on high flame
- When lentil starts to boil, reduce the flame to minimum and cook covered.Keep stirring often, as the lentils have tendency to settle at the bottom of the pan.
- Boil ½ cup water in a pan. Soak tamarind ball in this water for 8-10 minutes
- After 5 minutes, check if the lentils have cooked by pressing them between your fingers
- If uncooked, cover and cook for another 5-7 minutes
- Mash and strain the tamarind pulp using a strainer
- After 5 minutes, when lentils get cooked, add strained tamarind juice, and salt as per taste to the lentil and mix them well
- Cover and cook the lentils for another 10 minutes
- After 10 minutes, uncover the pan. Mash the lentils using the ladle
- When lentils are mashed nicely, it attains a smooth and velvety texture and has a thick consistency. Turn off the flame and cover the lentils while we prepare for tempering.
- Heat 3 tbspoon oil in a tempering pan .Add chopped garlic and fry until it turns brown
- when garlic turns brown, add black cumin seeds and red chili powder and mix them nicely. Put this tempering on cooked lentils(dal)
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