This week’s recipe comes a couple of days earlier than usual. Please excuse this segue but it’s also for a dal that until recently was not a usual part of my repertoire. As I mentioned on Twitter some weeks ago, sabut or whole versions of moong and masoor dal were not made in our home when I was growing up. My family’s dals are/were split and peeled masoor/mushoor, moong/moog and chholar/chana dal. My mother occasionally made whole kali urad dal (a very conscious Punjabi prep) but never whole masoor or whole moong (or for that matter chhilka moong dal). I hesitate to say that this is a Bengali thing more broadly because even at my advanced age I realize more and more how much my sense of “Bengali” is sliced by sub-region, community/caste, class and then just family preferences. Cooking outside the “tastes” we inherit from our homes/families is one of the marks of middle-class Indian modernity, I think, brought on by greater movement within India (and for those of us outside India by stores that sell to non-regional customer bases). I have grown to like these more robust dals quite a lot, especially in the broadly Punjabi style represented here.
- 1 cup sabut moong dal, rinsed, soaked overnight or 8 hours and drained
- 5 cups water
- 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
- 1 tspn zeera/cumin seeds
- 1 small red onion, minced
- 1/2 tspn or so minced garlic
- 1/2 cup or so tomato puree
- 3 Thai chillies, slit
- 1 pinch amchur/dried mango powder
- 1 tspn or so of ginger root, julienned
- 1 tblspn chopped dhania/cilantro
- Place the drained, soaked dal in a saucepan with the water and haldi, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook till the dal is soft and threatening to fall apart (probably between 60-75 minutes). If too much water evaporates add some more off the boil—when finished the dal should be thickened but very pourable.
- While the dal is cooking, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil over medium heat in a skillet and add the zeera.
- When the zeera splits (in less than a minute) add the minced onion and saute till beginning to brown.
- Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.
- Add the amchur and saute for another 30 seconds or so.
- Add the tomato, chillies and salt and saute till the oil separates.
- Add the contents of the skillet to the cooked dal, mix in well and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, covered. Add another 1/2 cup of water off the boil at this stage if needed.
- While the dal is simmering with the tadka, heat another tblspn of oil and saute the julienned ginger till just beginning to crisp up.
- Top the dal with the sauteed ginger and the dhania and serve with rice or chapatis with some pickle on the side.
- As always with the home-cooking repertoire, this recipe should not be seen as a fixed thing but as an indicator of a style. You can very the texture/consistency of the dal to your liking; you can add more or less onion, garlic or tomato; you can leave out the cumin altogether; you could add a pinch of hing; you could add more or less green chillies; you could mince the ginger with the garlic instead of adding it sauteed at the end; etc. etc. Consider this a template to work with rather than set steps to follow.
- It’s really quite remarkable how different whole moong dal is from the peeled split version that I cook more often. Blind I wouldn’t even take them for the same dal.
- If you’re Bengali and your family ate whole moong/moog or masoor/mushoor dal do write in below.