Saturday, November 04, 2006
I love my Dal, not the “Dal Dal pe Chiriya baithe…” kind of Dal but “Meri Ma ki Dal ki kasam” kind of Dal :-). This reminds me, does anyone know how to make Ma ki Dal , like if I make your recipe of “Ma ki Dal” won’t it be “Tumhari Ma ki Dal” when I serve it and vice versa , is there a global one, like “Sab ki Ma ki Dal” ? Ok, that's it. Enough PJ’s on a dull day and let’s move on to my daily dose of dal.
Ok, so let me reiterate I simply love Dal, maybe not all kinds but most kinds. I think every region in India have their own choice of Dal, like in the Northern Region, Arhar Dal or Tur Dal is very common as a regular dal for everyday dal-chawal, in the Southern Region Arhar still holds strong being the Dal for Sambhar (correct me if I am wrong). In Bengal, the most popular Dals are Red Masoor, Yellow Moong and Chana Dal or Cholar Dal. Everyone eats the other kinds of course but I am talking about what you would cook everyday. Check out this site to know about all these dals or lentils in detail.
For me, I simply love Red Masoor Dal or Musuri’r Dal as I would say. Now Masoor Dal is generally made on its own and not cooked with veggies or greens in a Bengali home, it’s the yellow moong dal which is allowed to socialize with the veggie family.
Some years back I think I had first seen Sanjeev Kapoor cook Red Masoor Dal with Green Spinach or Palak and when I tried it, it turned out to be pretty good indeed. It was also a nice way for me & my family to get our daily dose of greens. My little one who is not exactly a veggie fan, eats this unaware and I am satisfied.
With the recent Spinach scare, I thought of an alternative and tried out Bok Choy the green much loved by the Chinese. I don’t know if it was the healthy benefits of Bok-Choy or the fact that “eating Bok-Choy keeps Chinese women thin” theory of mine which egged me into trying this rich green leafy vegetable.
So I made Masoor Dal with Bok Choy (as an alternative to Spinach) and I tell you it is very very good.
What You Need
Red Masoor Dal ~ 1 & 1/2 cup of dal washed
Onion ~ 1 small finely chopped
Tomato ~ 1 medium chopped
Garlic ~ 1 clove finely chopped
Ginger ~ grated about 1 tbsp
Bok Choy ~ I used 3 bunches of small Bok Choy nicely chopped
You can use spinach instead and it tastes as good, even better.
Green Chillies ~ 3/4 your choice, chopped. I didn't use any because this was also my daughter's dinner
Jeera or Whole Cumin Seeds ~ for tempering
How I Do It
Pressure cook the Red Masoor Dal with Tomatoes and a pinch of turmeric.
Since I have separators in my pressure cooker, I cook dal in one and the chopped bok-choy in the other. You can also pressure cook them together
Heat oil in Kadai/Frying Pan
Temper with the whole jeera.
When it starts sputtering add the chopped garlic.
As soon as you get the fragrant smell of garlic rising add the onions. Take care so that the garlic does not burn.
Saute the onions with a little sugar added until they turn a nice pink with a hint of brown
If you have steamed the dal and greens separately add the greens now, not the water only the greens and sauté else jump to next step
Mix the cooked dal (if it has the greens in it fine) well with a whisk so that the dal is all nicely mashed up and you don’t see the individual entities i.e. the dal grains. Now add it to the Kadai/Frying pan
Add the freshly grated ginger
After you have cooked them for a few minutes, add water to get your desired consistency.
Add Salt and allow the dal to come to a rolling boil.
I don’t like this dal to be very thick, but not very watery like say Rasam either. When your dal has reached the consistency you want, you are done.
Friday night this was our simple dinner, rice, masoor dal with bok choy and Cajun catfish baked with tomatoes. The Cajun Catfish was cat fish in Cajun marinade bought from the super store. I browned the catfish a little in a frying pan and then simply baked it with olive oil and tomatoes.
All this Bok-Choy compels me to discuss an author of Chinese origin I have grown to love. She is Amy Tan and her first book I read was "The Joy Luck Club". I loved it because of the interplay between immigrant Chinese mothers and daugter. Recently I bought "The Kitchen God's Wife" from our library book sale for a mere 5oCents and I liked this one too, albeit "The Joy Luck..." I liked better. Maybe because I am an immigrant mom with a little daughter, I could foresee the feelings, the tension I would face when she is growing up.
Trivia: Masoor Dal is considered as aamish or non-vegetarian in a traditional Bengali household. It is never offered during Pujas, whereas yellow Moong Dal is popular as offerings or as an ingredient for the prasad prepared during Pujas. Would love to know a plausible reason.