Friday, February 18, 2011


Pre-cooking Lentils
I have established a habit of pressure cooking dals on a regular basis. Now, I grew up in a house where we used a cooker whose entire top came off, and you put tiered vessels inside it with carious things in the vessels. This way we would cook rice, dal to go in the sambar, and the potatoes to make into curry all in one go. Many people in India I have learnt do not follow this system. They use what I refer to as the Hawkins system (ours is the Prestige one), where the lid fits into a hole in the top of the cooker and you can only cook one thing at a time. The other major difference is that the whistle of the Prestige cooker comes off while that of the Hawkins doesn't. More on that another time. Having grown up like that it really feels like a waste to run th cooker and not cook more than one thing in it at a time, so I usually make two batches of lentils at a time, or chana and rajma together, etc. Which means I end up with a lot of cooked-and-awaiting-seasoning dal in the fridge and boy do I get sick of it sometimes, though I am glad that often I need only five minutes to make it.

Ok, I'm rambling. The point is, here you go easy dal recipes! The oil is based on a minimum of half a cup of raw dal, which should do 2 people at one meal. I don't eat chillies, but you can always add chilli powder/green chillies to taste. You can dilute the recipes to any thinness you want - generally yellow dals tend to be thinner than the other ones.

Chilka dal (dal with the skins on)
Take your dal, green moong or brown masoor.
Dal: water = 1:3
2 bay leaves
A medium onion in chunks
15 minutes on the Prestige; 3 whistles on the Hawkins

Yellow dal (moong or masoor)
These guys cook much faster, even in an hour or less on the stovetop without a cooker. Do not confuse them with yellow tuar or arhar dal, which needs 15-20 min in the cooker. Masoor is in fact orange but once cooked turns yellow.
Dal:water = 1:3
10 minutes in Prestige, 2 whistles in Hawkins

Yellow dal (tuar/arhar)
Dal:water = 1:3
15 minutes on the Prestige; 3 whistles on the Hawkins

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