Aug 19, 2008

Urad Dal

I love all kinds of dal. I've got several in the cupboard and I've promised myself to prepare them more often. There are so many types of dal and I talk a bit about them in this previous post. Urad dal is black (sometimes called "black lentils" or "black gram") but the variety I used in this recipe has been skinned and split. It's sometimes referred to as white lentils. It cooks quickly and has a mild taste. Season it liberally.

Dal is a kind of comfort food for me. It's thick and warm and hearty and well-seasoned and really fills me up. Leftovers taste great and can be turned into other things. Stay tuned for that.
  • 1 cup urad dal
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • pinch asafoetida
  • salt to taste
  • chopped cilantro
  • juice of one small lime
Wash and rinse the dal then let soak for about 15 minutes. In about 4 cups of water, bring dal to a boil then lower to just above simmer. Cook the dal under you can easily mash between your thumb and forefinger, around 20 minutes. It will still have a bit of tooth but that's OK.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the oil to medium-high. Toss in the mustard, cumin seeds, bay leaves, cloves and pinch of hing. When the seeds sputter, add the onion, ginger, dried curry leaves, and salt. Cook the onions until they begin to release their juice then lower the heat and add the tomato paste and turmeric. You might even add a tablespoon or so of water if things begin to stick.

When the dal is cooked, drain the water, reserving at least a cup. Combine the onion mix with the dal. Use the dal cooking water to thin to the desired consistency. I prefer my dals thicker than thinner (even when thinner is the traditional method) so a splash or two is all I use. I then add chopped cilantro and the lime juice. I really like the way the lime brightens and heightens dals. Taste and re-season for salt if needed. I had mine with basmati rice. I was on my own for dinner this day because S had after work plans. As such, I ate this for lunch AND dinner.


Alexa said...

Dals are my favorites too... I keep a big variety in my pantry. This recipe looks great and so simple. I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for posting it!

Shreya said...

wow, I have used urad dal only for tempering and in idli batter. This looks great. Will try for sure:-)

vb said...

alexa, yep, love dals. So versatile.

vb said...

shreya, I bet you know more than I the traditional ways to use urad dal. I was just experimenting. But it tasted good so I ate it. I've always wanted to make idli and keep meaning to get an idli steaming. Soon. Thanks for visiting!

Tim said...

I love dal, and yours looks great!

vb said...

Tim, thanks for visiting!


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