Ventured out of my comfort zone yesterday and made my own dhaal,without frantic googling, or referencing Gemini Mahadevan or Samaithu paar, although I doubt if either Gemini or Samaithu would sport the essentially north Indian recipe.
Cooking dhaal would be a lot easier if you boil and freeze a bunch for later use.
Pre-cooked tuvaram parrupu for sambar and rasam, and pre-cooked moong and masoor for the myriad dhaal combos. (Note the switch between the tamil and hindi.Smart.)
So, here goes again;
Caveat: I jot this recipe down like am thinking aloud. Despite most recipes exhorting us to measure teaspoonsful or tablespoonsful or cupfuls, one usually never gets around to it, except when the proportions really really matter, like when making a cake or payasam or the likes. So, when I say, "add water, then add some more, then add some more"....it speaks directly to the way I actually executed the dish. So, you need to take it with a pinch of salt. That's figurative of course.
Heat desired amount of oil.
Tadka/Taalichify with mustard, jeera, hing; then add a couple of sliced chillies, and some garlic,if desired. (I'd add garlic to anything I can lay my hands on. It has a lot going for it.)
Add some curry leaves too if desired. IMHO, Curry leaves can only enhance the flavor of a dish. Curry leaves in dhaal may be an unlikely pairing, but hey, when you have tons of it languishing in the fridge and you really don't have Indian food lined up for the rest of the week, what do you do? Right.
Now add some finely chopped onion. I used half an onion yesterday. This after innumerable attempts at making the right amount of dhaal. Onions add to the quantity,so if you don't want to eat dhaal for the rest of your life, I'd suggest half an onion for dhaal that might last 4 portions.
Saute onions, add finely chopped tomatoes. Again, I used one.
Once the raw smell goes, add some water, may be 3 of those measuring cupsful.
Once water starts to boil, add 2 cubes of thawed methi leaves. The frozen and then thawed kind. The methi cubes, I chanced upon when rummaging the freezer for shredded cheese. Rest assured, I had no plans of adding the cheese to the dhaal. Even I knew that would be a disaster. No, the cheese was for some other preparation.
So, when I chanced upon the methi leaves, I figured I'd throw a couple cubes into the dhaal. And I did. And so will you, if you've faithfully read until here.
Let the methi cook in the water for a little bit. May be 5-7 minutes.
Now add 5-6 teaspoons of the cooked moong dhaal. The measures may be a bit awkward, but I report what I executed.
Or at least enough so that the dhaal has the right kind of consistency, not too liquidy, but not too thick.
Add desired pinches of salt.
Let this simmer and then boil.
Once the concoction boils, taste. Coz, that's what I did. Better still, have somebody else taste it for you. If its somebody near and dear,their reactions will not lie. If you notice eyes bulging, ears turning red, gag reflex, that should tell you something. Turn the insinkerator on and sing a final paean to the dhaal that never was.
Fortunately I had no use for the insinkerator yesterday. After some initial tasting, I added more salt.
Finally,garnish the dhaal with finely chopped cilantro and add a few drops of lemon juice, if lemon rocks your boat.
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