When you feel like your body is craving something nutritious and comforting, slow cooking a healthy pot of dal is ideal. A little goes a long way, best to prepare dal ahead of time, and keep it stored for lunches, or a satisfying Buddhist Brunch.
A healthy dish of digestion-promoting dal possesses a high amount of anti-inflammatory and natural antioxidant properties with ingredients like garlic & ginger to help reduce muscle soreness, chili powder to increase your metabolic rate, turmeric embodying anti-cancer properties, and fenugreek, which is said to have the ability to regulate our blood-sugar response, and ‘Masoor dal’ in particular, is very good for improving blood circulation in the body. Sweet, nutty flavor and plenty of spice and texture to savor. Nutritious & delicious!
Chop a cucumber, some red onion and coriander or mint very finely and toss together with a few squeezes of lemon and a dash of salt and pepper, for a quick Cucumber Salsa -the perfect cool accompaniment to the heat of the dal. Serve your Bangla Dal and Seeni Sambol with a micro-green salad, the cucumber salsa, gluten-free millet flat bread and wedges of fresh limes. Absolute comfort food!
BANGLA DAL WITH A HINT OF LIME
- 1 cup masoor dal, washed & drained
- 5 cups of hot water
- 1 heaped Tbsp of tamarind pulp, chopped
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil or 2 Tbsp each vegetable oil & mustard oil
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
- 1/2 tsp sea or pink salt
- Lime wedges
- 1/2 cup coriander sprigs (optional)
- In a large saucepan, combine the dal and water and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam for the first few minutes of boiling, then lower the heat to medium and simmer for twenty minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the tamarind pulp in a small bowl. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the water from the pan of dal. Add it to the tamarind pulp, and stir well; then set aside for several minutes to soak.
- Place a fine strainer over a small bowl and press the tamarind through the strainer. Discard the pulp; set the tamarind liquid aside.
- Partially cover the dal and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook until its completely soft and soupy, 10 to 15 minutes. Keep warm over a low heat.
- Heat the oil in a wok or heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the coriander, cumin and cayenne and stir-fry for until fragrant (about 15 seconds) and then add turmeric, garlic, and onions and stir-fry until the onions are very soft and tender. Add the reserved tamarind liquid to the dal, add the onion mixture and stir well. Add salt to taste.
Masoor dal is an important part of the diet in many parts of the world, especially in the Indian Subcontinent, which has a large vegetarian population. It is basically split lentil without skin and is red in colour. It does not need soaking prior to cooking 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 percent protein, these lentils have the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any plant-based food after soybeans and hemp.
- 1/4 cup of coconut oil
- 3 cups of thinly sliced red onions or shallots
- 1/4 cup minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp of minced ginger
- 8 fresh curry leaves
- 4 to 8 dried red chilies, stemmed & broken into pieces
- 1 tsp of Maldive fish or bonito flakes, ground (optional)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/8 tsp of ground cloves
- 3/4 cup fresh organic coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp of organic cane sugar
- 1/2 tsp of sea or pink salt
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, or to taste
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When it’s hot add the onions or shallots, the garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring until golden brown.
- Lower the heat, add the curry leaves, dried chilies, bonito flakes, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and coconut milk. Bring to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the sambol is not sticking.
- Remove from heat, add sugar, salt and lime juice, and stir well. Transfer to a food processor and process to a smooth puree.
- Transfer to a jar and let cool. Seal lid tightly and store in the refrigerator. It will keep for a month or more if kept refrigerated.
This recipe makes a relatively large quantity; store it in a glass jar in the refrigerator and bring it out as condiment with any meal. Put it out in a small bowl with a serving spoon so guests can dollop a little on the side of their plates.
Recipe adapted from one of my favourite culinary books: Mangoes and Curry Leaves, by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid.
Mangoes and Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent, by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid, Hardcover, 416 pgs, 2005.
Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid travel west from Southeast Asia to that vast landmass the colonial British called the Indian Subcontinent. It includes not just India, but extends north to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal and as far south as Sri Lanka, the island nation so devastated by the recent tsunami. For people who love food and cooking, this vast region is a source of infinite variety and eye-opening flavors. Home cooks discover the Tibetan-influenced food of Nepal, the Southeast Asian tastes of Sri Lanka, the central Asian clay-oven breads of the northwest frontier, the vegetarian cooking of the Hindus of southern India and of the Jain people of Gujarat.
It was just twenty years ago that cooks began to understand the relationships between the multifaceted cuisines of the Mediterranean; now we can begin to do the same with the foods of the Subcontinent. Their stories, along with their breathtakingly diverse photographs of places, people and food, allow us to experience with them one of the most visually stunning places on earth. Their recipes are tailored for the North American home cook to experience authenticity, for every occasion.