As part of an interesting phenomenon known as ‘growing up’, our food habits and practices evolve. This change may sometimes be organic and slow and at other times be as radical as it can be.
During the course of my growing up years while my taste buds were getting fascinated with new dishes from different cuisines I began to overlook the significance of the home cooked food. It was not until I moved out for my career ambitions to different cities, when I sincerely began to yearn for food cooked at home. During those days I would grapple with ingredients in my kitchen and would end up producing distasteful dishes. It was only when I began to treat cooking as an art and learnt significance of each ingredient and how they combine together to produce some memorable dishes, I began to enjoy the process of cooking.
Among the first few recipes that went through the process of trial and tribulations several times and which I ended up mastering was ‘Sabut Masoor ki Dal’.
I can’t just express in words how much I feel for this recipe. This was my Mom’s go-to recipe which she would make for us kids when she would run out of ideas for our lunch. In fact I can go about eating steamed rice with Sabut Masoor ki Dal without getting bored of it. Well I may get bored at some point, but you get the point that I am trying to prove.
The whole red lentil (Akkha Masoor) must be soaked for an hour or more for best results. It is then pressure cooked until it becomes soft enough (not really mushy, but soft enough to be consumed). We start with tempering of whole garam masala (spices) and onions. Tomatoes are added which provide sourness to the recipe. Bhunao is the most important part of the recipe. After garam masala and red chili powder is added and mixed, Bhunao brings the flavors and colors of the masalas to the fore and makes the dish an absolute treat.
Bhunao is the process of roasting the masalas on high heat, while stirring continuously. You cannot afford to lose attention as it may result into burning of masala and ruin the dish. As you fry the masala, it starts to lose moisture, and begins to get drier. At this stage, lower the heat and add 2-3 tbsp water and raise the heat again. All this while remember stirring has to be continued. This process must be repeated 2-3 times to bring out the colors and flavors of masala. When Bhunao is complete, add cooked dal and water as per desired consistency and allow the dal to simmer for few more mins. At this stage, you can either choose to eat this Dal as it is with steamed rice, or add some more flavors by adding in the Tadka. For me Tadka is an option that I prefer only when I am in mood for an elaborated comfort food and on other days, I may skip it completely.
Let’s get started with the recipe
Interested in some more Dal recipes? Do check this
- 200 grams=1 cup whole masoor(whole red lentils). Keep masoor soaked in water for an hour.
- 2 bay leaf
- 4-5 cloves
- ½ inch cinnamon stick
- 2 medium sized onions cut into length
- 2 medium sized tomatoes finely chopped
- 3 green chilies sliced lengthwise
- ½ tsp crushed dried fenugreek leaves
- 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- ½ cup coriander leaves finely chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 and ½ tsp coriander powder
- 3 tsp red chili powder(byadagi-less spicy)
- 2 tsp garam masala powder
- 1 stalk curry leaves
- 2 dried red chilies
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp asafoetida powder
- 1 tbsp clarified butter
- Cooking Oil
- After an hour, we will pressure cook lentils.In a pressure cooker put lentils.Add 2 and ½ cup of water.Add ½ tsp salt and turmeric powder and mix.
- On medium heat, pressure cook until 3 whistles.
- In a large pan, heat 4 tbsp oil.Add bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon stick,green chilies and sliced onions.Fry until onions turn light brown in color.
- Onions turns brown on low heat in 8 mins.Now add ginger-garlic paste.Fry for 2-3 mins.
- Now add chopped tomatoes.Add salt to taste.Cook covered until tomatoes turn mushy.Tomatoes turn soft on low heat in about 10 mins.Add coriander powder, red chili and garam masala powder.
- Bhunao process:- Roast masala on high heat, while stirring continuously. As the masala begins to get dry, lower the heat add 2-3 tbsp water.Raise the heat again and stir masala at high flame. This is Bhunao method.
- Bhunao step has to be performed 2-3 times.Bhunao ensures that masala gets nicely absorbed with the ingredients.It enhances the color and flavor of masala.
- Now add cooked dal and mix.
- Add 2-3 cups of water.You can modify the quantity of water as per the desired consistency.Cook until dal begins to simmer.Now add dried fenugreek leaves and chopped cilantro.
- Cook for 5 mins on low heat.After 5 mins, turn off the heat and prepare for tadka.
- Heat clarified butter and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida powder,whole dried red chili and curry leaves.
- Pour the tadka over cooked dal. Keep the dal covered until you prepare for serving.
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