Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tarka Dal or Curry Lentils for #SundaySupper



Today Sunday Supper’s theme is budget dishes. In other words, delicious recipes that won’t break the bank. I considered giving you a recipe for my old college standby of tuna casserole with cream cheese (which sometimes didn’t even have tuna if the month was longer than my money) but I settled on something really tasty that we love to eat, even when money isn’t an issue. And that is when you know it’s good!

When we lived in Malaysia, we picked up the habit of eating dal and roti canai for breakfast since the school canteen served a tasty bowl and the little shop not far from our house was great on weekends. But there were many times when I would make my own dal long before that. From the time I got my first Madhur Jaffery cookbook and spice box, in fact, circa 1996-97, this recipe for spicy yellow lentils, cooked down until they become a sauce, has been a favorite. You can thin them with more water and call them soup. Or you can leave them thick and scoop them up with flatbread or serve over rice. The original recipe doesn’t include potatoes or carrots or green beans, but coffee shops in Malaysia often add them so I do too. The vegetables make this spicy dish even more of a meal. And, best of all, dal is a great, cheap source of easily digestible protein and nutrients. Perfect for this week’s Sunday Supper! You can even make your own naan to go with. It’s easy!

Oh, and a quick word on the title: Dal means split so any split pea or bean is dal but it is also the name of the cooked dish. Tarka refers to the spices that are fried in a little oil and added at the end to season the dish. For more information on lentil varieties, have a look here. And for lentil nutrition, this is a good link.

Ingredients
1 cup or 225g moong dal or split mung beans
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium potato
1 medium carrot
Good handful green beans
1/3 teaspoon asafoetida (optional but good – I couldn’t find any!)
1 teaspoon whole cumin
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
2 small red chilies plus more for garnish, if desired
Good handful curry leaves (optional but good)
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
Salt to taste

Method
Wash the lentils well in a big bowl of water, making sure that there aren’t any stones or hard bits of mud, and then drain and tip into a large pan. 


Pour in 26 oz or 750ml water. Bring to the boil, and use a slotted spoon to remove the grey-white scum that rises to the surface. As you can see, I missed this step so I skimmed after adding the turmeric. It's all good in the end.


Stir in the turmeric, and turn the stove to simmer. 
 

Skim scum now if you forgot to. 
Put on the lid, but leave it partially ajar, to prevent the pot from boiling over. Check it every once in a while and give it a stir. Add a little more water if necessary. My simmer is hotter than it should be so I did add some water part the way through to make sure the lentils didn’t go dry.



Meanwhile, cut the ends off of your green beans and then cut them into smaller lengths. Peel and chop your carrot and potato.



After about 20 minutes of lentil cooking time, add in the vegetables. Keep simmering for about another 20 minutes, as which point your lentils and vegetables will both be cooked.


If you want to use a couple of red chilies for garnish, slice them finely holding the stem end with a sharp knife and pop them in a glass of ice water. Ideally, they should curl, if you have cut the strands thin enough. Set aside till needed. 



Now on to the tarka for seasoning.

Slice your onion and your garlic very finely. 
 

Heat the oil and add the asafetida (if using), cumin, mustard seeds, whole chilies and curry leaves. And stir! 


When the mustard seeds start popping, which happens quite quickly, add the sliced onion and cook until golden.


Add in the garlic and stir quickly. You don’t want the garlic to burn because it turns bitter. 


Pour the mixture into the dal and give the whole thing a good stir. Add salt to taste and pop the lid on. 
 


Enjoy! As mentioned above, you can serve this over rice or with a flatbread. It is delicious, comforting and affordable!




Sunday Supper Movement

Have a look at all the wonderful budget dishes the #SundaySupper group have for you this week! We are going to eat well and cheaply for the next few weeks on these recipes!  Our hosts this week are Lane from Supper for a Steal and Pam from Blueberries and Blessings.  Thanks for hosting, ladies!

Starters, Soups, and Salads
Main
Sides
Drinks and Desserts


Join the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter Sunday! We’ll tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm EST. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest boardfor more delicious recipes and food photos.

Coming to Orlando July 19-21, the first annual Food and Wine Conference sponsored by #SundaySupper. Visit the website to learn more and join in on the fun.

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38 comments:

  1. Love the tip on cutting the pepper and putting it in water. So cool the way it curls up.
    I actually have a bag of mung/moong beans in my pantry so I'm ready to make this dish asap! I love the spices and flavors in it.

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  2. Oh my gosh this looks amazing. I'm adding it to our menu for the week, but I would seriously eat it right now!

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  3. The thinner you cut the pepper, the more it will curl, Renee. I have a friend who took a class in vegetable and fruit carving (She made fabulous edible art!) and she passed on that little tidbit to me. This dish is truly one of our favorites. I hope you enjoy it!

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  4. I still have leftovers, Lane. It's a shame you don't live closer. :) I am going to pan-fry some fish and serve this as a side dish for tonight. It's one of those dishes that gets better the day after.

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  5. This looks ahhhhh-mazing Stacy! The flavors have me wanting this for breakfast! I can't wait to try it!

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  6. It's the perfect breakfast dish, Jen! You are set for a long day with this in your belly. I can eat it anytime, frankly. :)

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  7. Yes! I have to concur that this is something we'd eat anytime - feeling poor or not. So comforting and flavor-packed...

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  8. Okay. So. Where did you get that bowl?! LOOOOVE!! And... how about shipping some of that delicious goodness out here to the good ol' US of A. hehehe :) BEAUTIFUL!!

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  9. I didn't realize you lived in Malaysia... Ron has visited on business but I have not been... would love to one day! Thank you for sharing this beautiful recipe!

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  10. thank you for all the photos. Makes the process look much more "doable" than it seems in my head :-) and believe it or not, i have some asafoetida in my spice drawer!

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  11. And that's why I chose this dish, Heather. Cheap doesn't mean not tasty! Like your beautiful "ramping up the ramen" recipes!

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  12. You are too funny, Katerina! I think that is meant to be a Christmas bowl, since it is decorated with holly. I was hoping no one would notice, so I am glad you like it. I bought it at a store in Kuala Lumpur that sold "seconds" of various name brands. I have two. I would be happy to give you one!

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  13. Sadly, we left Malaysia about 15 months ago, Isabel, but if you have the chance to go again, take it! It's a beautiful country with fabulous food and very friendly people.

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  14. Ah, Kelli, the tuna recipe is easy. Boil your pasta. Drain. Add in cream cheese and a can of drained tuna. When I was feeling flush, I might have added frozen peas to the pasta while it boiled. :) I ate that and chicken wings more times than I could count. Fortunately, I really liked them both. I actually ate the dal last night with pita bread, called Arabic bread here, so that's what's in the photos. But it is also lovely over rice!

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  15. The chili pepper is not essential, Bea, so I hope you will enjoy it. I am delighted that it fits your diet restrictions. Lentils are just the best, aren't they? Loved your soup recipe too!

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  16. Wow! I am very impressed with your spice drawer, Teresa! Thank you for your kind words!

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  17. Look at all those amazing spices! As always, I truly appreciate your photos. Its always good to see exactly how its done! Great recipe, Stacy!

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  18. Such a pleasure to learn about the meaning of dal and tarka.


    So glad you shared the very specific photo instructional of preparing the curry lentils. Your soup undoubtedly brings on smiles - in the taste and budget departments =)

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  19. Such a colorful dish!! Bet it pops with flavor too!!

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  20. Very colorful! Interesting combo of spices.

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  21. Just got back from Spring Break and we are all on the post-vacation diet wagon - this is something that we can eat - love bean recipes! I'm sure I can find the beans in the international market over by the mosque, but only if they are marked in English - that's going to be my challenge!

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  22. Thanks, Kim! We were smiling over here for sure!

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  23. I love anything with cumin, Tammi, but these lentils are especially nice. The pepper helps too. :)

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  24. As long as the bag is see-through, it doesn't matter what they call them! Look for the little yellow or orange ones. Either tastes great and, oddly, they both cook up yellow.

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  25. Thanks, Lyn. It's comfort food for us. Spicy, warm and delicious!

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  26. We love Tarka Dal, as a matter of fact it is on the menu tonight. Your version looks wonderful

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  27. I used to make something almost identical in University when we had no money! It is so good I make it anyways now

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  28. Those peppers on top are scaring the bejeezus out of me! It's probably while I stay far far away fro m curries. But as a budget meal? Looks perfect.

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  29. This dish looks absolutely amazingly flavorful, and I LOVE the pepper trick!

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  30. I'm going to make that tuna dish - Probably crush some potato chips over top and cheddar cheese. Can't help it - I'm a product of my time! :)

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  31. Thank you, Laura! You really can't beat dal for taste and cost.

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  32. Exactly, Sarah! Lentils weren't really on my radar at university but I so wish they had been. We'd have eaten a lot better!

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  33. Don't be sceerd, Susan! The peppers in the tarka and on top can be left off for those who don't eat hot food. The other flavors are still delicious!

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  34. Thank you, Conni. The thinner you slice them, the more they curl!

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  35. Do it! I don't think it needs the cheddar since it's already so cheesy with the cream cheese, but the crunchy potato chips would be a wonderful addition if you are going to bake it. I ate it right out of the pot. Well, I mean in a bowl. I didn't bother with a casserole dish and the oven.

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  36. I LOVE this recipe. I make lentils a lot and this is a nice change up than my go to recipe!

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  37. The flavors are wonderful, Megan, and this is one of those dishes that just gets better the next day, so it's great for "leftover" lunches.

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