Top 10 Dal Recipes
Everybody has a reason to add a cup of dal to their meal, whether it is to include a soupy accompaniment in the meal, or to meet the day’s quota of body-building pulses. Indeed, every traditional Indian meal features a dal. No matter whether it is prepared as Sambhar or as Dhan Saak Dal, as Trevti Dal or as Dal Fry, every region has its favourite dals and every meal is sure to include a bowlful of it!
The wondrous thing about Indian cuisine is that the same dal may be prepared in different regions in different ways! Some dals are prepared simply by tempering the cooked dal with whole spices and seeds, while some dals are flavoured using masala pastes. Dals are often cooked with tomatoes and onions, and spiced up with green chillies and ginger. A tempering of cumin seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves goes a long way in boosting the flavour and aroma of the dal. Often, the tempering is only added at the end, giving the dal a lingering aroma. When you temper chilli powder or Garam Masala in ghee and add it atop a dal, it looks as appealing as coffee laced with cream!
Tangy ingredients like tamarind, kokum or lemon juice are often added for a refreshing flavour. Likewise, sometimes a paste of coconut, chillies and spices may also be added to boost the flavour of the dal. Or, roasted and crushed groundnuts may be mixed in, to give the dal an exciting twist. Another thing to note when following a dal recipe is the extent to which the dal must be cooked. Some recipes call for the dal to be fully-cooked and mashed, whereas in some cases the dal needs to be soaked and cooked only to the extent that its shape and texture can be discerned. This small difference can make or break such dals! Similarly, dals may also be made out of multiple dals, as in the case of Panchmel Dal, to create a mélange of tastes and textures.
While dals like the Dal Fry, Dal Tadka and Masoor Dal are homely, everyday fare, those like the Dal Moghlai, Shajahani Dal and Shahi Dal are fit for a king. Each region also has its favourite dal, be it the kokum and peanut tinted Gujarati dal, the royal Rajasthani Dal Banjari or the buttery Punjabi Dal Makhani.
Dals can be enjoyed with parathas, rice – plain or buttered. Depending on the main course, you can choose an appropriate dal. If you are serving with a spicy paratha, you can go for a subtle dal, while you can go for a richer one if serving with plain rice. A moment’s thought about how much time you have, what are the other items in the main course, and so on, is all that it takes to pick the right recipe for your meal.
Wherever in the world you are, a bowl of dal is all you need to comfort and nourish you, with good health and memories of ma’s cooking! So, forget not to cook yourself at least a simple dal every day.