Saturday, 15 January 2011

Chana dal

No Indian feast is complete without a dal and as Mr Hungry has a special weakness for it I wanted to perfect the dish once and for all. In the past I confess to being a little flummoxed by Indian food. I was more than happy following a recipe (as with all these dishes) but not so hot on creating a dish from the contents of my fridge and my imagination. Dal caught me out every time by being deceptively easy. My attempts were always too bland, too spicy or just too meh to mention.

The consistency of dal (I am assured) is entirely down to personal preference, so this one I made the day before and left overnight to thicken and soak all the liquid into the yellow split peas. The result was perfectly to our tastes and there was a satisfying amount leftover for the first couple of days of the year when I avoided the stove. Once again the recipe is courtesy of Ms Jaffrey and this time I followed it to the letter, in order to either avoid previous mistakes or at least have someone else to blame.

Left: Spicy green beans. Right: Chana dal

Chana dal

  • 225g chana dal or split peas
  • 1.15 l water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 thin slices of unpeeled ginger
  • 3/4 -1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Handful of chopped coriander leaves
  1. In a heavy pan boil the dal/split peas with the water. Remove any surface scum with a large flat spoon. Add the turmeric and ginger, cover but leave the lid slighlty ajar, and simmer on a low heat for 1 1/2 hours or until the dal is tender. During the last 1/2 hour stir every 5 minutes or so to prevent sticking. Take of the heat, add the salt and the garam masala and mix in.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the cumin seeds. After 10 seconds add the garlic and fry until golden brown. Add the chili powder to the pan, immediately move from the heat and stir into the dal. 
  3. Garnish with fresh coriander
This can be made the day before serving if required.

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