In a vegetarian diet, lentils or dals are a very important source of protein and most Indian households, especially those who follow a vegetarian diet try to incorporate some lentils in their diet daily. But then the problem comes that we end up eating the same three or four types of lentils daily. Fed up, a couple of weeks back, I tried a new recipe which was surprisingly easy to make and very yummy to boot. The addition of yoghurt and milk elevated the recipe and make it special.
½ cup Yellow Moong Dal
½ cup Masoor Dal or Orange Dal
2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
2 medium-sized tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp ghee
½ tsp green chilli paste or 1 finely chopped green chilli
¼ tsp ginger paste or 1 inch finely chopped ginger
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 to 3 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp garam masala Powder
1 tbsp kasuri methi
3 tbsp beaten yoghurt
3 tbsp milk (either skimmed or full cream)
Salt to taste
1-2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
Wash and soak masoor and moong dal in warm water for about 20 minutes.
After that, add half the turmeric powder and pressure cook the dals for about 3-5 whistles until the dals are very soft and mushy. This can also be done on the stovetop.
When the cooker has cooled down, open it and whisk the dals until they become a homogenous mass.
In a pan, heat half the ghee and add in the cumin seeds and let them splutter a bit.
Now add the green chillies and ginger and saute for a few seconds.
Then add the onions and saute till the onions become translucent in colour.
Once the onions are translucent, add in the tomatoes and saute till the tomatoes become soft and mushy.
At this point, add ½ the red chill powder, the balance turmeric powder, salt and garam masala and saute till the masalas are incorporated.
Pour this masala over the cooked and whisked dals and mix well.
Add the yoghurt and milk and water to bring it to the desired consistency. Keep it on a slow to medium flame until the dal comes to a rolling boil.
In the same pan that you made the masala, heat the balance ghee and once it heats up, crush the kasoori methi in the palms of your hands and add it as well as the remaining red chilli powder and saute for a few seconds before pouring it over the dal.
Cover for about 10 minutes before serving so that the flavours get time to infuse.
Enjoy with rice or any flatbread
Notes: The recipe called for fresh cream which I substituted with skim milk. It didn’t detract from the taste and you can add in 1-2 tbsp of cream instead of milk.
Masoor or split red lentils are a powerhouse of nutrients. A mere cup of masoor dal has 230 calories, about 15 grams of dietary fibre and about 17 grams of proteins. It also has various positive impacts on one’s health and body.
This inexpensive dal does not need much time to soak or cook as it is a soft dal and cooks quickly. When cooked, masoor dal turns a soft golden colour and has a pleasant earthy flavour. With 26 per cent protein, these lentils have the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any plant-based food after soybeans and hemp.
These lentils help stabilise blood sugar levels as it is low in glycemic index and slows the the rate of digestion and prevents sudden or unexpected raises in the blood sugar level. It also keeps the heart healthy by lowering cholesterol levels due to the large propotion of dietary fibre and is an effective weight loss remedy because it has the perfect amount of carbs, yet is low in fat content. Because it is a powerhouse of antioxidents, it has anti-ageing properties and being a rich source of vitamins and minerals like calcium and magnesium, Masoor dal nourishes your teeth and bones. For skincare junkies, if you are looking for a healthy, spotless, glowing and raditing skin, make and apply a face mask of ground masoor dal, turmeric and rose water and apply on your skin. Wash off when the mask dries up. You can also add some milk to this mask for hydrating benefits.
Growing up, my mum never made this dal because my father used to say it was not good for us. When I researched, I found that sometimes, this dal can be adultrated by missing it with another, similar looking dal called kesari or kultha dal which can cause nervous problems and issues with your limbs, especially for pregnant women if eaten in excess. Of course eating anything excess is bad for you and excessive consumption of masoor dal may lead to adverse effects such as kidney ailments, gas from potassium toxicity and side effects of large proportions of amino acids. It may also cause an allergic reaction in some people.
This simple dal fry is very easy to prepare and start to finish, takes around 20-30 minutes (including cooking the dal in a pressure cooker) and is very tasty to have for a homely lunch with rice.
Masoor Dal Fry
1 cup masoor dal or split red lentils, washed and cooked with turmeric powder till it is soft and completely broken down
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1 medium sized tomato, finely chopped
3-4 garlic pods, finely chopped or grated
1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
1 green chilli, slit lengthwise
1 tbsp ghee or oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp (more or less) red chilli powder
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp coriander powder
1 tsp kasuri methi
1 tbsp (or more) lemon juice
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves, finely chopped to garnish
Cook the masoor dal in the stove top or pressure cooker with the turmeric powder. Once the dal is cooked, whisk it with a wire whisk till smooth and keep aside.
In a pan, heat the ghee or oil and when it warms, add the cumin seeds and let the seeds splutter. Then add the garlic and stir for a couple of seconds. After this add the ginger and stir for a few seconds.
Now add the finely chopped onion and stir well and let the onions become translucent. Then add the chopped tomatoes and let the tomatoes soften and become mushy. Add a pinch of salt to help the softening process.
When the tomatoes are soft and mushy and oil starts to leave the sides of the pan, pour the cooked dal into this mixture. Add another cup of water and thin it to the consistency you want.
Let the dal boil in medium heat for about 5 minutes. Check for seasoning and then crush the kasuri methi in the palms of your hands and sprinkle it over the dal.
Switch off the flame and add the lemon juice as well as the finely chopped coriander leaves to garnish.
Serve hot with any kind of rice with a stir fried vegetable of your choice.