.. a very good place to start.
For most Indian cooks, Varan- bhaat or daal-rice is the simplest meal to put together. Every house has a favourite plain dal recipe. Here’s mine.
This recipe serves 2.
The main ingredients are:
- 1/2 cup Toor dal (also known as Pigeon peas)
- Hing, a pinch
- 1/2 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoonTurmeric
- Salt, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon Jaggery/Gur (optional)
The important thing is to use a pressure cooker as toor dal does not cook very well when boiled like some other lentils.
- Wash the toor dal well.
- In a pressure cooker, add 2-3 cups of water. Add the dal, hing and 1/2 tsp turmeric.
- Cook the dal on a high flame until the pressure cooker lets out 2-3 whistles (about 10 minutes). Lower the flame and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
- Turn off gas, let the pressure cooker cool.
- Once you are able to open the lid of the cooker, check to see if the dal has turned to mush. Feel free to use a handheld blender to turn it into a thick curry like consistency. (I use an old fashioned ‘ravi’ 🙂 )
- Boil the dal with 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, salt and jaggery (optional). Add water, if required, to thin it out a bit. The final consistency should be like that of a thin porridge. When it bubbles, turn off the gas.
- Pour over a steaming mound of rice. Add a dollop of ghee and enjoy hot.
This recipe can be easily scaled up. I use 1/4 cup dal per person, per serving. Multiply that by the number of servings needed. (If you are scaling up, I would recommend going easy on the hing and turmeric. These can always be adjusted to taste at step 6.)
- I find that the dal cooks better if I soak it in warm water for about an hour before cooking.
- I add the jaggery because toor dal sometimes causes acidity. But that’s just me.
- Ghee is pure clarified butter. While the best version is the home made one (duh?!), some commercially available ones work just as well. In the UK, I use the KTC brand.