Even though Mr. Mazhar can eat meat in all shapes and sizes, or different colours and cuisines, all the time, every so often there a few days when he (and I’m guessing his digestive system) needs a break from the high protein diet. On these rare and special days he says to me: ” Begum sahiba, can you make daal (lentils) and rice tonight?”. And my reply is always a resounding: “Yes, of course, Mr. Mazhar!”.
I’ve always had this crazy notion in my mind that lentils were hard to cook, even though I had never actually cooked them. So the first time Mazhar asked to make them, I panicked. And like all good Pakistani wives, I called for backup – my Ammi and my elder sister. “Help!”, I said. “How do I make daal?”. The Pros that they are now in dealing with domestic crises, their first words of wisdom to me were: “Calm down, Nida!”. I’ll admit to consciously applying these wise words at other times of distress (inside and outside the kitchen) as well and they are indeed helpful 😉
Anyways, jokes aside, it turns out lentils are about the simplest thing to cook! You just pop them on the stove in a pot filled with water and boil them till they lose their shape and give way to form a warm and golden soup of happiness and flavour in every spoonful! Yummy! Now that I’ve made the basic recipe enough times I feel confident in trying out new recipes to make it more interesting for us. And it is such a recipe that I’m sharing with you today. The basics are still the same but if you have the time and the ingredients, this recipe packs a delicious and spicy punch of flavours. One that was appreciated by Mr. Mazhar hence it is being featured in my blog today. Oh! The things we do to keep our husbands (read man-children) happy!
- 2 cups lentils of any one kind or a mixture of two or more kinds
- 4-5 cups water
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste, rounded
- 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
- 2 medium sized red onions, chopped
- 4 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tbsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2-4 cardamoms, slightly crushed
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks, whole
- 3-4 cloves, whole
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 3 green chillies, whole
- 100gms fresh cream
- 50gms butter
- 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
For tempering and garnish
- 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
- 3-4 dried, round red chillies, whole
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, whole
- Wash and soak all lentils for at least one hour. I mixed 1 cup of Masoor (Orange) lentil and 1 cup of Moong (split green, skin removed) lentils. You can also use Mash (white) or Chana (gram) lentils. You can adjust the ratio of each lentil to your preference but make sure that you end up with two cups of them. I hope I haven’t confused you!
- Boil the lentils along with the spoonful of ginger-garlic paste, in enough water to cover the lentils completely and have some more, until they become tender. This usually takes an hour and a half. If you feel that the lentils need some time but the water is drying out add some more water from a recently boiled kettle that is relatively warm. Do not add cold or tap water, this just ruins everything, for reasons unknown to me.
- In a large sauté pan heat the ghee, fry onions for a few minutes until softened and then add the tomatoes. Cook for a minute and then spoon in all the spices and seasonings. Fry this mixture for 8-10 minutes. The tomatoes will release their liquid to make a concentrated paste of flavour.
- Add the boiled lentils and green chillies to the sauté pan and cook on a low flame for five minutes. Then stir through the fresh cream, butter and coriander leaves. Cook for another two-three minutes and your lentils are ready. Transfer them into your serving dish and keep warm.
- For the tempering mix, in a small frying pan, heat the ghee and add in all the ingredients. Fry for a mintue or two until you hear them sizzle. Be mindful not to burn the spices. Pour onto the ready lentils. Garnish with butter on top and you are in for a delicious dinner with a twist.
I serve daal with plain boiled rice but you can have it bread, naan or chapati if you prefer. One last word of caution, please use more or less chillies to suit your own palate. Enjoy!