"This is a journey of my life since I was all of 12 yrs when I started my hand in cooking to now with displays of my learning and creations of recipes from around the world. My inspiration and role model has always been my Mum who has always created dishes from around the world and excellently well. I do not believe I would ever match to her culinary skills. I remember the times she could cook and bake almost 4-5 dishes in one go without ever letting one go under cooked or burnt! I was born and raised in Dubai, UAE and recently moved to India for family reasons. Kitchenette just means that over the decades, my kitchen has changed from that of my mum's to my uncle and aunt's, to my home in UAE and now in India. Pala't'te, describes both global cuisines ('Palatte'-diverse flavours) and pleasing diverse 'Palates'."

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Dal Tadka(Fry) or Fried Split Pigeon Pea

I decided to start with something simple which is cooked in most Indian households.

Split Pigeon Pea or Toor dal (its Indian name) is a rich source of protein and important amino acids. Coming from a household where healthy foods were cooked, Parippu (Dal in Malayalam) was used to make several dishes including Sambar among others. (*You will find some health titbits in my recipes as I mentioned I come from a health conscious household where my mum was from the health services department so some food types are forbidden at home esp. in mum's pantry :D  )
Dal Tadka served on rice

Having had friends and family from various cultural backgrounds, I noticed that this particular dish was always varying in palate and flavor across diverse households. My particular favourite make of this dish is cooked in South Indian brahmin families (yummm)! I am yet to get the actual recipe from someone in particular(I will share once I have it). 
Dal Tadka goes well with rice of any kind: brown rice, basmati rice  or jeera(cumin) rice being my favourite combination. It also goes well with Chapati (Indian unleavened flatbread) or Roti.
I have experimented with Toor dal in several manners but this one has gained particular applause from both my hubby darling and my 2.4 yr old daughter.


For the dal:

  • 1 cup of toor dal(Split Pigeon Pea)
  • 21/2 cups of water
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder

For Seasoning:
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil or sunflower oil or 1/2 tbsp of ghee* (*a form of clarified butter that originated in South Asia(namely: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal) and is popularly used in South Asian cuisine. We normally do not use ghee except rarely for dishes consumed by children as it has a high level of cholestrol per tsp.)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black cumin seeds(jeera)
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • *  Garam Masala(Hot mixture literally translated) powder- Grind the following to a dry powder: 2-3 cloves, 1” piece cinnamon, 2-3 pepper corns, 1 tsp black cumin seeds (jeera), 1-2 piece of dry red chilies. Tip: You can make this dry mix ahead of time and store for 3-4 weeks in room temperature.
Coriander leaves
  • 1 sprig of finely cut coriander leaves(cilantro) (Tip: if you taste the stem of the coriander leaves once washed, and then taste the leaf, you would find most of the flavour lies in the stem. In India, I notice they sell the coriander leaves with the root whereas in UAE the root is removed before sale even in the vegetable market. Make sure before washing when you take off the root, you leave most of the stem as shown in the picture below. Once clean finely dice the coriander leaves from the stem upwards)
  • 2 medium sized onions or 1 big onion - diced finely (basically run your knife vertically and then horizontally)

Traditional grinding stone (belongsto my grandma)
To grind: my grandma used to use the below traditional grinding stone(it is the actual stone she used - got my Dad to send me the picture). Tip: It brings out the best flavor in grinding both dry and wet spices - ah alas technology:) The below mixture would be excellent if ground on a stone as shown in the image below. These days you get one in a handy size(mortar and pestle) or as part of a table top.

  • 2 small green chillies chopped
  • 1 piece ginger chopped
  • 7-8 cloves of garlic diced(*yes we love garlic and its a great source to lower cholestrol and coupled with asafoetida acts as an antiflatulence agent when consuming legumes and pulses;-) )
  • 1 tsp pepper powder (optional: for those who like a bit more of spice in their food - I find it good when taking more garlic - does something well to the spice mix)
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 3-4 small onions(shallots) as shown to the right
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds (powdered earlier or you can use the ones from off the shelf. Remember to grind it separately or it will not get ground properly with this mix. We get ours freshly ground at the mill when in India. However when I was in UAE, I always bought the ones off the shelf)
  • ½ tsp dry mango powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water

The Make:

Cooking Time: 20-25 mins | Preparation Time: 10 minutes|Serves 4 adults

Once you have all your ingredients in place. Start with the dal..

The Dal:
Place the dal in a pressure cooker with the water and the ingredients that goes with it as explained above. Ensure you do not add any salt at this stage as it slow or disables the cooking of the dal. Allow for 2 whistles on high flame and 1 whistle on low flame and turn off the flame. You can start on the seasoning at this stage and come back to the dal once de-pressurised. Once de-pressurised, hand-beat the dal mix with a wooden spoon for a few seconds and set aside.

The Seasoning:
The finshing touches to the Dal Tadka

  • Heat a wok (traditionally we use the clay pot which again has properties to bring out the flavour in your dal - same goes with fish or chicken which I will explain in my other recipes) or a non-stick pan. Add the oil or ghee as preferred. 
  • Once the oil is slightly warm, lower the heat to medium then add mustard seeds and allow it to splutter, add the cumin seeds and curry leaves to follow. After about 10 seconds, add the sliced onions and the dry spice powder(Garam Masala). Toss it around for half a minute. Ensure it does not burn. 
  • Then add the ground wet spice mix and  simmer on a low flame.  Once the masala gets a cooked smell (usually takes about 8-10 minutes on a low flame), add the chopped coriander leaves and mix.  Leave for about 8-10 seconds only so as not to dampen the effect of the coriander leaves.

The Finale
Add the cooked dal mix to the seasoning (usually mum does it the other way around adding the seasoning to the dal but its a pain to clean the masala off my pressure cooker:D ) and let it run to a boil and turn off the flame . If you find your dal too thick for your liking, add some hot water (usually 1/2 a cup does the trick or it turns out to be too watery).

Dal Tadka served over rice

Serve warm with rice or flatbread as per your choice. It also goes well with methi (fenugreek leaves) flatbread and is a healthier choice:) (I will try and add the methi leaves chapati recipe soon)

Hope you enjoy this recipe and do not forget to add your comments or suggestions with this post! Happy Tasting all! Bon Appetit..

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