This is the simplest meal ever, and yet it’s second to none in popularity. It’s enjoyed in every household, and I too opt for it, especially when I’m short on time and don’t want to slave in the kitchen. It basically cooks itself. It requires very little effort, and tastes amazing.
Dal chawal in our house meant masoor dal (split red lentils), white rice and tomato chutney. Here’s what masoor daal looks like in raw form:
Now, in the Punjab, tomatoes are usually added to the dal, but in the North, it is not the norm. Skipping the tomatoes is another step eliminated, so it makes it even easier. However, the tamatar chutney was a must, it is so good with dal chawal!!!
Everyone has their own favorite accompaniment with dal chawal, like achar, kachoomar salad, onions, garden salad, green chilies, etc but let me assure you that you will be astounded at how amazing tomato chutney tastes with dal chawal.
Another one of my favorite accompaniments, that I saw at a relative’s house in Peshawar was onions soaked in vinegar. It’s delicious, and i think goes very well with all kinds of rice. I think dal chawal really requires that tang to go along with it, which is why achar is very popular with it. People also add lemon juice to the dal itself, for that reason.
So, on to the unbelievably simple dal recipe, with my favorite accompaniments. I’ve already shared my white rice recipe in an older post, you can see it by clicking here >> White Rice Recipe.
- 1 cup masoor dal (split red lentils)
- 3 cups water
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- ½ tsp minced garlic
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin (I grind cumin and then use it)
- ¼ tsp oregano
- ⅓ cup oil/ghee
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed & sliced
- ¾ tsp garam masala (or, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of cloves, a pinch of black cardamom, all powdered)
- 3 dried red chilies/2 green chilies/1 jalapeño pepper
- 5-7 fresh curry leaves (optional)
- Put all the dal ingredients in a small pot and bring to a simmer.
- Reduce heat to low and cover and cook for about 1 hour until the dal has thickened and the water has just about evaporated. (This is when you'll see the daal bubbling on the surface. Watch out for the bubbles. That's when I start stirring.)
- Give the dal a good, thorough stir using a wooden spoon.
- Slowly add about a cup of water while stirring, bringing the dal to the thickness that you prefer.
- Bring to a boil and turn off the heat.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the tarka ingredients. Fry for a few seconds until they give off their aroma. Immediately pour over the dal. Put a spoonful of dal in the frying pan, to coat any of the remaining tarka oil and pour pack into the dal.
- Serve hot with white rice or roti.
- Adding curry leaves to the tarka is a totally South Indian touch that I've adopted because I just love their smoky, peppery aroma. While it is extensively used in South Indian cuisine, I feel that it goes very well with a few dishes like dal, eggplant and biryani.
- Along with garam masala, curry leaves can be added to the dal in the initial cooking process, rather than with the tarka. But I prefer to fry them and then add them because I feel like it brings out the best flavor.
- 3 tomatoes
- 6-8 sprigs cilantro
- 2-4 sprigs mint
- 2-3 green chilies
- salt to taste
- Puree the tomatoes, herbs and green chilies in a slow grinding machine, like a food processor or a food mill. Fast grinding will make it foamy and destroy the color.
- Pour into a serving bowl and stir in the salt.
- 1 White or yellow onion
- 2 cups white vinegar
- Peel and thinly slice the onion into a bowl with a lid.
- Top with the vinegar until the onion is completely immersed.
- Cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
- Store in the refrigerator for a few days.
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