Sunday, 4 November 2012

Creamy Masoor Dal - the little orange lentils

Creamy Masoor Dal - the little orange lentils

Unlike some other dal, masoor dal cooks very quickly and it’s especially high in protein.  The recipe is done in under 45 minutes. 
My only complaint is that it doesn’t keep its gorgeous colour while it’s cooking, but at least you can gaze at its magnifiscent beauty during the early stages. 
‘Tis better still to eat this fabulous, creamy dal.  Feeling rather gluttonous, I made quite a bit.  You may want to halve these quantities.  As a blender is used for the vegetables, be lazy with your chopping skills.

2 ½ cups masoor dal
lots of water
World's oldest electric spice grinder...
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 black cardamom
2 green cardamoms
½ teaspoon fenugreek seed
1 stick cassia or cinnamon
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
4 cloves
¼ teaspoon black cumin

¼ teaspoon hing
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon black salt
½ teaspoon amchur powder
Coconut cream will work too!
4 fresh tomatoes, quartered
1 large red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 inch ginger, quartered
2 Thai chillies (or more to taste)

more water
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon ghee
½ teaspoon dark mustard seed
½ teaspoon cumin seed

½ cup light cream (or ¼ cup heavy cream)
small bunch washed cilantro
Begin by washing the dal.  It will be frothy and the water cloudy, so rinse till the water is mostly clear.  This is a two pot dish, so take the smaller you have, and fill with the washed dal and clean water, and put on high heat to boil.  Once it starts to boil you may still have froth and foam, so scoop off as much as possible and discard.  Turn the heat to medium.

While the dal is simmering, take two minutes to gently roast the whole spices in the larger pot.  As soon as they become fragrant and start to smoke a bit, brush them into a spice grinder along with the hing, turmeric, salt and amchur powder.  I used bits of cassia so I blended them, but if you’re using a single strong cassia or cinnamon stick, leave it in the pot.  Grind the spices and set aside.
Toss the tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger and chillies into a blender and purée.  Set aside.

In your larger pot, add the oil and ghee.  Turn the heat to high and sizzle the mustard seeds, cumin and cassia or cinnamon if you left it whole.  This will take mere moments.  Grab the lid to your pot, and quickly pour in as much of the tomato mixture as you can.  Set aside the messy blender and immediately cover the pot, as it will want to turn into boiling lava and attack you.  Very painful, not to mention messy.  
Masoor dal needs no soaking and cooks fast.
Turn the heat down to medium and leave it to madly boil for about seven to ten minutes.  After this time it will be safe to uncover and stir.  Leave the lid off, and watch for the oil beginning to separate from the tomatoes.  This happens when most of the moisture has boiled off.  It’s important for the moisture to go away as this is when the ground spices are added.  You want them to fry in the pan, rather than boil.  Stay there and stir for a few minutes, then add the dal and the water it’s cooking in.  By now the dal will be quite soft.  Now take that messy blender, and add a couple more cups of water.  Whiz it again to lift all the delicious bits out, and add some of that to the dal, but probably not all. 
Tomatoes and cilantro colour this faded dish.
This dish will simmer for another twenty minutes, about the time to make rice.  So only add as much water as can reasonably boil off in this time, without making the dal too thin.  (Use the left over tomato water for the basmati rice.)  When the rice is nearly cooked, chop the cilantro, stems and all, with scissors right above the dal pot.  Then stir in the cream.

Served over basmati rice, this dish makes a delicious complete protein, satisfying and luscious.  If you want to keep it vegan, you can omit the ghee, and substitute coconut cream for the dairy.  Either way will make you very happy. 
Delicious and super healthy too...

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