Showing posts with label turmeric. Show all posts
Showing posts with label turmeric. Show all posts

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tarka Dal or Curry Lentils

This tarka dal (or curry lentils) is a warm bowl of spicy comfort that is cheap but satisfyingly delicious.

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.

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

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!

Adapted from Tarka Dal from Madhur Jaffery

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
Drinks and Desserts