If you are expecting the first post of the year to be reflective, this one probably will not disappoint terribly. These lentils were one of the last meals that I had made for all of us. Simple, nourishing and full of the citrusy fragrance of curry leaves.
I did not think that I would post before I reached back to the US, on the 7th, but I guess I missed the space and was sorting through some pictures when this recipe called my name.
Chances are I would love have a steaming bowl of these lentils waiting for me once I return, but one of the downsides of being the houses resident chef is that nothing really waits for me until it is made.
This trip to India, was interesting for me since I actually did not stop in Kolkata, but rather was in Delhi and spent a lot of time travelling. I will share my travels with you over time as I do, in my own lop-sided way. Landing at the airport still brought with me the tightening of my chest knowing that there was no Dad waiting in anticipation for my call letting him know that I had arrived. Some glimses of emotion will not go away.
I did not really explore much of the food scene in Delhi, but did make stops at Nirula’s where I loved their ice-cream sunday and savored their chole bhatura but was rather disappointed by their chili chicken. Not surprisingly, Indo-Chinese remains a Kolkata speciality.
A meal at Sarawana Bhavan, left me almost returning for more the next day. Those flavors rocked in their finish and clean and pure simplicity. The kids loved their dosa so much they actually had one and a half each. I enjoyed my Thali, cannot help wondering why all restaurants do not have a thali concept. For those unfamiliar with a thali, it is the India version of a plated meal where all the course are served together in small bowls on a large plate called the Thali. I did some stops at Old Delhi, this one I will cover at a later point.
Now, that I have stimulated your senses do I really expect you to get excited about a simple dal recipe, actually I do. Lentils on the Indian table have a hallowed presence. They are both the simplest and the the deepest of meals, soulful and comforting. This recipe has notes of South India, in their simple flavors. It gets done almost effortlessly in the pressure cooker. This version is made with Tuvar Dal or Pigeon Pea lentils, also known as Arhar Dal.
A tangy creations with lentils, tomatoes and a simple South Indian style tempering.
- 3/4 cup tuvar dal (pigeon pea lentils)
- 1 and 1/2 cups water
- 1 medium sized onion, finely diced
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger paste
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/3 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon asafetida
- 10-12 curry leaves
- 2 to 3 dried red chilies broken
- 1 lemon or lime
- Cilantro to garnish
- Place the lentils in a pressure cooker, with the water, onion and ginger paste.
- Add in the tomatoes, turmeric, red cayenne pepper and salt and stir and cover and cook until pressure for 15 minutes.
- Cool and remove the cover and mix the lentils well.
- Heat the oil in a small pan for a couple of minutes.
- Add in the black mustard seeds and wait for them to crackle. Add in the asafetida followed by the curry leaves and dried red chilies and cook for a few seconds.
- Pour the oil into the lentils and mix well.
- Squeeze in the lemon juice and add some chopped cilantro.
- Serve with steamed rice.